Muslim Mayor of Nazareth Limits Christmas, Says Trump's Jerusalem Move Has 'Taken Away the Joy'

Nazareth Christmas
People attend a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Nazareth in this undated photo. |

The Muslim mayor of the Israeli city of Nazareth, which has a large Arab population, has decided to cancel some Christmas events, blaming U.S. President Donald Trump for souring the holiday following his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Our identity and faith cannot be bargained," said Ali Salam, the town's mayor, on Thursday, according to a Fox News translation of 10 News.

"[Trump's] decision has taken away the joy of the holiday and we will cancel the festivities this year."

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.

This year's Christmas market and festival will not be taking place, however, as Muslim political and world leaders continue condemning Trumps' decision from last week.

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

Trump argued that he is recognizing historical reality with his announcement that the U.S. is to begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Muslims oppose the move as they see East Jerusalem as a future capital for Palestine.

Trump's statement followed a U.S. Senate resolution in June that read: "Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected."

Among the various voices speaking out against Trump is Adeeb Joudeh, the Muslim custodian who holds the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, believed to contain the tomb where Jesus Christ was rested after the crucifixion.

"I absolutely refuse to officially welcome the American Vice President Mr. Mike Pence at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and I will not be physically in church during his visit," Joudeh stated.

The church said that Pence, who is due to the visit the city next week, has not contacted it yet, however, and clarified that Joudeh does not have the authority to make such decisions.

The announcement to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was, meanwhile, hailed by other groups, including 250 prominent Israeli rabbis who issued Trump the biblical blessing that God gave to Joshua.

"You have a rare privilege now to be the first president to spearhead the recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel. We merit living in a generation in which prophecies are being fulfilled, one after the other," the religious leaders wrote to Trump.

Many American evangelical leaders also praised Trump's decision, and earlier this week presented him with a "Friends of Zion" award at the White House.

Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum, declared that "no American president in history has done more to defend the Jewish people in the United Nations" than Trump.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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