Nazareth is one of the holiest cities for Christians because it is where Jesus Christ was raised, and where the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, according to the New Testament. Today, however, the city has canceled all Christmas celebrations this year, saying that President Donald Trump had taken the joy out of the holiday.
About 20 percent of Israel’s overall population is Arab, and many of the country’s Muslim citizens are unhappy with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of a Jewish state. Dozens of Arab Israelis demonstrated outside the American embassy in Tel Aviv this week and waved Palestinian flags.
The decision by Mayor Ali Salam to cancel festivities was made in protest of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Our identity and faith aren’t up for debate,” Salam said during a press conference Thursday, according to the Times Of Israel. “The decision [by Trump about Jerusalem] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year.”
The cancelation will cost the historic town severely as the annual festivities—including a Christmas market, a parade, and multiple concerts—draw tens of thousands of pilgrims.
But this year the mayor determined that the situation in region is too fraught for joy because of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Salam also called Trump “wretched” and said he had stabbed Palestinians in the back.
Trump’s controversial decision drew criticism from Muslims around the world and from many important U.S. allies. The status of Jerusalem is at the center of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians because the city is sacred to both Judaism and Islam. H
Protests have rocked the Middle East and Muslim countries in Asia, and several people have died as a result. On Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an umbrella group of 57 Muslim countries, met in Istanbul and issued a communique denouncing Trump’s decision.
Most Israeli leaders support the decision, claiming that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel. But the response of Nazareth’s mayor demonstrates that the decision was not universally popular in Israel.