Muslim Santa spreads Swedish #IraqiChristmas joy

A Muslim student in Sweden is dressing up as Santa Claus to spread festive joy among Swedish families on Christmas – and to extend a hand of friendship between religions. 

Muntadher Dakhil, 21, came to Sweden from Iraq seven years ago, and is currently working and studying in Kristianstad in southern Sweden. 

He does not celebrate Christmas – but this does not mean he cannot help others observe the festivities. 

So this Christmas Eve, Dakhil is offering his services as Santa to families for free. 

"As a Muslim I don't celebrate Christmas myself but from my upbringing I am used to Christians and Muslims marking each other's holidays anyway," reads his online advert. 

The Local spoke to Dakhil on Friday after news of his kindhearted effort went viral in Sweden, which has seen increasing cultural, religious and racial tension in the past year. 

"I want to show my gratitude to Sweden and show that Muslims are kind," he said. "We are all equal." 

He reveals that he bought a Santa suit for the last money he had left in his bank account and more than a dozen families have so far been in touch to book him on the day. 

"I was shocked that it got so big," said Dakhil, who admits that despite not formally observing Christmas, he has got accustomed to Swedish festive traditions. 

"In the past three years we have made Christmas decorations, eaten gingerbread and had glögg (Swedish mulled wine) in the student hall of residence." 

by Emma Lidman

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