Somalia Bans Christmas and New Year Celebrations

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Somalia’s government has banned all Christmas and New Year celebrations in the predominantly Muslim country, insisting the Christian festivities could prompt Islamist attacks.

“All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage the faith of the Muslim community,” the director general of the religious affairs ministry told the press on Tuesday.

 

Government to prevent celebrations

The government has warned there should be no celebrations whatsoever related to Christian holidays, claiming it will prevent and break up any festivities that have “nothing to do with Islam”.

Sheikh Mohamed Kheyrow, director of Somalia’s ministry of religion, spoke on state radio to announce the ban across the nation.

“We warn against celebration of Christmas, which is only for Christians,” he said. “This is a matter of faith. The Christmas holiday and its drum beatings have nothing to do with Islam.”

 

Fears over Al-Shabaab attacks

A spokesman for the Mayor of Mogadishu – the capital of Somalia – told Reuters there are two key reasons for the ban.

“Christmas will not be celebrated in Somalia for two reasons,” he told the publication. “[Firstly] all Somalis are Muslims and there is no Christian community here. The other reason is for security,” he revealed. “Christmas is for Christians. Not for Muslims.”

The capital Mogadishu was under the control of Islamist militants Al-Shabaab until 2011 and the group routinely banned Christmas across the city. Last year Al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility for an attack that took place on December 25 against the main African Union (AU) base in Mogadishu, killing three peacekeeper troops and one civilian.

Other countries to have imposed strict bans on Christmas celebrations this year are Tajikistan and Brunei – with the latter warning people could face up to five years in prison for not adhering to the ban.

 

Featured image:

Nativity tree2011” by Jeff WeeseFlickr: Nativity. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.