Christians Find Muslim Allies to Defend Christmas 12/24/05 Source: Ottawa Citizen Christian groups battling the "war on Christmas" have found surprising allies in Jewish and Muslim groups, especially in the United States, who say any religion is more hospitable than aggressive secularism."It is assumed that Muslims would object to someone saying, 'Merry Christmas.' In fact, we don't," says Ibraham Hooper, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Muslims are sympathetic toward the urge to worship and believe that a society with more spirituality, rather than less, can only be good, he says. . .. . .Mr. Hooper says people of other faiths simply want the same freedom to celebrate their religious holidays that Christians have. "We don't seek public recognition," he says of Muslims, "but as the community is growing and maturing, we ask to be recognized. In terms of numbers, we would ask the same respect." So if a community was largely Muslim, would its public school close for Ramadan? No, but a good many students might not be in class. The council's central Florida office recently asked that a school board near Tampa include a one-day Muslim holiday alongside Christian and Jewish holidays. When the school board voted instead to scrap all religious holidays, Christian groups protested -- but so did Muslims. The Christian and Jewish holidays were reinstated. "We have dropped it for now," says Mr. Hooper. "We'll come back to it when things have cooled down. It can't be discussed rationally at this point." He added: "We would like to see one standard applied in terms of recognizing religious holidays."