Nazareth curbs Christmas celebrations to protest US Jerusalem move

by Abel Hampton December 17, 2017, 0:26
Nazareth curbs Christmas celebrations to protest US Jerusalem move

Nazareth, the Israeli Arab city where Jesus is thought to have been raised, will celebrate Christmas as usual, its mayor said, denying the festivities would be curtailed in protest at the USA decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

When Trump announced the decision he reiterated his commitment to peace in the Middle East, noting the previous policy of not recognizing "the reality" that Jerusalem is Israel's capital brought us "no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians".

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Ali Salam, the Muslim mayor of Nazareth, said on Thursday.

"We have made a decision to cancel the traditional Christmas singing and dancing because we are in a time of dispute, because of what Trump has said about Jerusalem", city spokesman Salem Sharara said.

Nazareth is noted in the Bible as the town where Jesus Christ grew up in, and in modern times holds large Christmas celebrations which are a big tourist attraction.

But this year the mayor determined that the situation in region is too fraught for joy because of Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Almost 70 percent are Muslim and about 30 percent are Christian.

"The decision (by U.S. President Donald Trump about Jerusalem) has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel festivities this year", Salam, a Muslim, told the Times of Israel.

It's known as one of the holiest cities in Christianity, the place where the Angel Gabriel told Mary she was pregnant with the son of God, and the city where Jesus was raised. Israel's I-24 News also reported this move. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city's holy sites.

Reuters pointed out that the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, also briefly switched off its Christmas lights last week in protest.

Nevertheless, the local administration has already walked back his aggressive position somewhat, conceding "there are commercial interests of the city and we are used to hundreds of thousands [of Christians] coming for this season".

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