Muslims were told by a cleric in Sidon, in south Lebanon that they must understand that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are strictly Christian holidays and urged Muslim parents to resist the temptations and pressures to buy their children Christmas gifts.
“Some Muslims make a mistake by erecting a Christmas tree in their homes and dressing up their children in ‘Santa Claus’ outfits,” Sheikh Hussam al-Ilani, the imam at Ghufran Mosque in Sidon, said in a Christmas day statement.
“They even take it further by visiting the toy store and buying gifts and asking the shop’s owner to send ‘Santa Claus’ to their homes to give the gifts to their children,” he added.
Those parents believe that celebrating Christmas is a way of achieving national unity, he added, but they are wrong.
“Christmas and New Year’s are for Christians and not Muslims,” Ilani insisted.
“This is not extremism. It’s what all Muslims and Christians must know and understand.”
An older Muslim man from Sidon told Ya Libnan, “goodbye coexistence ….this is not the Lebanon I grew up in .”
“It took me years to find out that one of my next door neighbors was a Christian and the other a Druze . We were one big family .. we grew up together celebrated all holidays together the Adha , Ramadan, Easter , Christmas and New Year. We used to buy each other presents during these periods .”
“Lebanon set an example for the world in coexistence and now look what this Sheikh is saying “, the man said adding ” it breaks my heart.”
He added :” I do not pay any attention to these haters . I still buy my children and grand children presents during all the holidays , because I want them to feel that we are one country and one people …this is what coexistence means. ”
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