Senegal: The Muslim Country that celebrates Christmas

Around 94% of Senegal's 14 million people are Muslim, yet Christmas is a national holiday. Blow-up Santa's, Christmas trees, and tinsel-decorated garlands line the Senegalese streets. But why does this Muslim country love Christmas so much?

The celebration of one of the most important and widely celebrated Christian holiday highlights the attitude of tolerance and diversity of Senegal. This is a stark difference from its bordering countries where religion only serves to divide them, with Islamic extremism continuously on the rise.

The Senegalese national motto is "one people, one goal, one faith,". It's important to note that the state doesn't say what faith this should be. Instead, most Senegalese view it as an invitation to celebrate everything.

This is particularly the case for Daouda Sow, a 45-year-old Muslim businessman from Senegal. Despite being a Muslim, he puts up a Christmas tree in his house every year.

"This is the culture here in Senegal, it's very open, and it's different from our neighbours such as Guinea or Mali."

Daouda Sow

Many Muslims in Senegal have celebrated Christmas for years, making it the norm for many Senegalese. For Sow, it has been a tradition he has followed every year since he was a child.

As Sow puts it: "The two religions, we are in it together. We are invited to celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas, and we invite Christians to celebrate our holidays with us.”

You can read the rest of this article in our January issue...