THE head of Britain's equality watchdog today urged the country to ignore "politically correct" critics and put Christ at the centre of Christmas festivities.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has joined non-Christian community leaders to head off what his organisation says is the growing sense that to celebrate the birth of Jesus is taboo.
In recent years some school nativity plays have been banned or altered to change their Christian meaning so as not to offend some minorities.
Later today Mr Phillips will say at a London conference on diversity: "A lot of these stories about Christmas are the usual silly season stuff.
"But I can't help feeling there's sometimes an underlying agenda to use this great holiday to fuel community tension. That's why I asked leaders in different religious communities to join me in saying: It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be the star of the show."
Speaking about Muslim, Hindu and Jewish festivals, he will go on to say: "The logic is baffling: to welcome Eid and Diwali and Hanukkah in celebration of our glorious diversity, whilst brushing Christmas under the carpet as an embarrassing episode in our mono-cultural past."
Hindu Council UK general secretary Anil Bhanot, who has joined forces with Mr Phillips, said: "Hindus celebrate Christmas too. It's a great holiday for everyone living in Britain We would like Christians to continue to carry Jesus' message of love. Barring the faiths of others does not fit in with the Hindu religion."
Dr Indarjit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, said: "Every year I am asked, 'do I object to the celebration of Christmas?' It's an absurd question.
"As ever, my family and I will send out our Christmas cards to our Christian friends and others. In the spirit of Christmas, we in the Singh family will, as usual, force ourselves to have extra turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies, the lot – all in the cause of inter-faith harmony."