Muslim mayor of Nazareth uses Christmas to protest US' Jerusalem move

Nazareth, a Muslim-majority city in Israel, stages a Christmas celebration each year with performances, a holiday market, tree lighting and parade.

The mayor of Nazareth said Saturday that Christmas celebrations would go ahead in Jesus' hometown, only days after announcing holiday festivities would be canceled in protest of the United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Salam said during a press conference Thursday. "The decision [by Donald Trump about Jerusalem] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year". Christmas events in the city, which is a centre of Christian pilgrimage, normally provide a big boost to its economy. 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.

Trump argued that he is recognizing historical reality with his announcement that the to begin a process of moving the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Basilica of the Annunciation in central Nazareth is located on a site that many Christians believe was the childhood home of Mary, Jesus' mother, Reuters noted.

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

Jerusalem holds significance for three major world religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Mr Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, was a significant USA policy change.

Even though Israel has fully controlled the city since 1967, and moved most of its government institutions there, no country has moved its embassy from Tel-Aviv or has accepted to call Jerusalem Israel's capital.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, and condemned by the vast majority of the worldwide community.

In response, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. According to the New Testament, Jesus also grew up in the town.

The Palestinian leadership, Fatah and Hamas, claims the Jewish people have falsified their 3,000 year-old history to lay claim to Jerusalem.

  • Tracy Klein