- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Somalia’s government have banned Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, warning that such festivities might encourage 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,” Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the director general of the religious affairs ministry told reporters Tuesday, Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported.

Security forces have been ordered to break up any such celebrations in public. Foreigners will be able to mark the Christian holiday in their own homes, but the festivities will not be allowed in hotels and other public places.

Celebrations will be allowed at U.N. compounds and bases for African Union peacekeepers, who are in the country to back the government’s fight against the al Qaeda-linked militants, the BBC reported.

Christmas is not widely celebrated in Somalia. The majority Muslim country officially adopted Sharia law in 2009.

It also follows the Islamic calendar that does not recognize Jan. 1 as the beginning of the year.

Yusuf Husseun Jimale, the mayor of the capital city of Mogadishu, told the BBC that the festivities could be a target for the Islamist terror group al-Shabab, which targeted hotels in the city in the past.

Last year Al-Shebab militants launched a Christmas attack on Mogadishu airport that killed at least 12 people.

Somalia is the second country to ban Christmas celebrations this year. On Wednesday Brunei also announced that it would not tolerate Christmas celebrations.


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