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Palestinian ministry advises Muslims against participating in Christmas celebrations

A department of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the Gaza Strip, governed by the Palestinian Islamist party Hamas, has given instructions to Muslims to limit their "interaction" with Christian Christmas celebrations.


The Muslim authorities apply a special fatwa (Islamic ordinance) and a mobilisation campaign through the media and preachers to remind Muslims of the need to refrain from directly participating in non-Muslim rites and celebrations.

On the afternoon of Saturday, the 19th of December, in an attempt to defuse the controversy, the Hamas-controlled ministry published a statement to clarify that the planned measures were not directed against the liturgical and devotional practices of Christians in Gaza, presented as “compatriots and comrades in the struggle for the Palestinian cause”, but addressed exclusively to Muslims who participate in non-Islamic religious celebrations.

The ministry’s statement, confirming the existence of the ministerial directive, had the effect of multiplying the negative reactions, even in the Palestinian field. Among the most outspoken critics of the Hamas measure is Father Ibrahim Faltas, an Egyptian friar of the Custody of the Holy Land, known for his closeness to the Palestinian people.

In a long text, Father Ibrahim Writes: 

“I would like to see energies mobilised to lift the blockade of Gaza, or to support reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas and achieve unity among the Palestinian people, or at least to convince the people to help each other in these difficult circumstances.”

According to him, the Hamas ministry tries to “prevent people from celebrating together the most beautiful holiday in Palestine, the holiday in which the attention of millions of people around the world is attracted to enthusiastically follow the details of this celebration in Bethlehem, the capital of the nativity, which becomes the capital of joy in Palestine”.


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