Muslim Mayor of Nazareth Backtracks After Canceling Christmas Over Trump Jerusalem Announcement

Dec 17, 2017, 01:10
Muslim Mayor of Nazareth Backtracks After Canceling Christmas Over Trump Jerusalem Announcement

"I$3 invite all the residents of the State of Israel - the Jews, Muslims and Christians - to come to the city of Nazareth and take part in the Christmas celebrations", he said.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Salam said during a press conference Thursday.

The annual events are a huge tourist attraction during the Christmas season. 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.

It also marked a reversal from Thursday's announcement by Nazareth's city council that Salam had ordered the axing of all planned artistic events, including a festival and large Christmas market.

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Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world rejected President Trump's declaration earlier this month that the USA was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Nazareth's imposing Basilica of the Annunciation is built on a site that many Christian faithful believe was the childhood home of Jesus' mother, Mary.

Nazareth is traditionally thought to be where Jesus grew up.

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 already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today", Salam said.

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According to the group this decision "harms Christians in Israel and in the world on their holy day", the statement read, asserting that it also "harms the city's economy and and relations between the various religions".

But this year the mayor determined that the situation in the region is too fraught for joy because of Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It comes amid a backlash across the region after Mr Trump announced he would begin the process of shifting the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, after symbolically recognising it as the capital of the country.

In response, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

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"President Trump has made a bold and courageous stand that will be remembered in history forever, like President Harry Truman, who made a bold and courageous decision to recognize Israel at statehood", Hagee said.