Nazareth mayor 'cancels' Christmas in protest of US Jerusalem decision

Posted December 17, 2017

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.

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused a backlash in the region, particularly among Muslims, and the reaction's reverberated to Nazareth, where the town's mayor, Ali Salam, announced Thursday that all planned Christmas events would be canceled.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate ..."

"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, Reuters reported. Yet the president has managed to dampen the Christmas spirit on the other side of the world with his offensive, widely panned decision on Jerusalem.

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Salam's statement came as the start of the Christmas festivities was set to begin in Nazareth later Saturday with the lighting of the tree.

Reuters reports that Nazareth isn't the only town to protest the move; within an hour of the announcement, the Palestinian towns of Bethlehem, Jesus's traditional birthplace, and Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank briefly switched off their Christmas lights in protest.

"We have chose to cancel the traditional Christmas singing and dancing because we are in a time of dispute, because of what Trump has said about Jerusalem", added city spokesperson Salem Sharara. The city is also claimed by the Palestinian population, and Jerusalem is home to some of the most sacred sites in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Approximately 69 percent of the Arab town's 76,000 inhabitants are Muslims and 30 percent are Christians.

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Trump's decision, which included a plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilled the requirements of a 1995 law that was adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate (93-5) and the House (374-37).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Israel's I-24 News also reported this move.

Following the 1967 Middle East war, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital. The holy city, the Palestinians insist, is "Palestinian" and must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Hamas, meanwhile, said the decision "opens the gates of hell" and called for several days of protests.

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