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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Security Enhanced in Pakistan, Bethlehem Cancels Christmas

Islamabad Capital Police and Pakistan Rangers deploy over 1,500 officers to ensure security during Christmas celebrations, while Bethlehem cancels festivities due to conflict, leaving Palestinian Christians in a somber mood.

Islamabad Capital Police (ICP) and Pakistan Rangers have deployed over 1,500 officers to enhance security around Christian places of worship in Islamabad during Christmas celebrations. Security measures include special search and arrest points near worship places, thorough searches, constant communication with event organizers, punctuality, reasonable car parking arrangements, prevention of harassment in open areas, adequate lighting, and addressing loudspeaker violations.

Bethlehem, traditionally known as the “capital of Christmas,” has canceled celebrations due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza and violence in the occupied West Bank. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Bethlehem for the annual Christmas Eve procession to a subdued city. Palestinian Christians, mourning the more than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza since the war began, find this Christmas particularly somber.

The heads and patriarchs of major churches in the Holy Land called on Christians to “stand strong” with those suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, foregoing unnecessary festive activities. Palestinian Christians note the poignancy of the Christmas story, with parallels between Mary’s experience and the challenges faced by pregnant women in Gaza. Despite canceling celebrations, they emphasize the fresh and meaningful essence of the Christmas story this year.

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The Palestinian Christian population in Gaza and the West Bank has dwindled, with church-led institutions affected by Israeli airstrikes. The war has taken a toll on the Palestinian Christian community, and celebrations were canceled to address the gravity of the situation. The occupied West Bank, where Bethlehem is located, has also been severely affected by the conflict, leading to job losses and collapsing tourism.