Boris Johnson has been accused of hypocrisy over religious celebrations after claiming it was “inhuman” to cancel Christmas.
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal criticised the prime minister following his press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The PM said it would have been “frankly inhuman” to “ban Christmas” as he refused to cancel relaxation of rules despite criticism.
Afzal questioned why the same had not been applied to other religious celebrations.
Watch: PM wants people to have a smaller Christmas
Afzal tweeted: “Boris Johnson asks us to all to think hard about how we can (keep) each other safe - as if we haven’t been doing it.
“‘A smaller Xmas & a shorter Xmas is the safest Xmas’. A non-existent Eid & Diwali was also the safest.
“Johnson says it’s ‘inhuman’ to cancel Xmas. Why wasn’t it ‘inhuman’ to cancel Eid at 9.20pm the night before? Or “inhuman” to cancel Diwali, Hanukkah etc
“Let’s be clear we made sacrifice because it was the right thing. Even if Govts decision making is always too little & too late.”
Twitter user Hasan Patel was also annoyed with the PM’s comments, writing: “‘Inhuman’ to ban gatherings at Christmas, but it wasn't ‘inhuman’ to ban Eid gatherings earlier this year and it isn't ‘inhuman’ to botch up the #COVID19 response.”
BBC Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall, added: “Will be plenty who sympathise with the PM’s message that it would be wrong to change the rules at this late stage before Christmas.
“But many British Muslims will probably raise an eyebrow, given that for millions rules were changed only hours ahead of Eid earlier this year.”
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson urged people to take precautions this Christmas when restrictions were relaxed between 23 and 27 December.
He suggested cutting down on the number of people you meet before the relaxation period, spending less time together when you do meet, and not staying overnight at a different household.
The PM said: “We’re keeping the laws the same but we all want to send the same message: a smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.
“When we say three households can meet on five days I want to stress these are maximums and not targets to aim for.’
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said people should “keep it small, keep it short and keep it local” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Johnson told people to have “have yourselves a merry little Christmas – and I’m afraid this year I do mean little”, but added that he hoped next year’s celebration would be normal.
Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year