Fearing Islamist attacks, Somalia's government has banned celebrations of Christmas and New Year in the Muslim majority country.
The director general of the religious affairs ministry said, "All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage the faith of the Muslim community."
‘All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations have been banned in Somalia, as they are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage the faith of the Muslim community.’
AdvertisementSheikh Mohamed Khayrow said, "Security forces had been ordered to break up any such celebrations. There should be no activity at all."
Sheikh Nur Barud Gurhan, of the Supreme Religious Council of Somalia, said, "Non-Muslim festivities might provoke the ire of the Shebab, East Africa's Al-Qaeda branch, which is headquartered in Somalia. We are warning against the celebration of such events which are not relevant to the principles of our religion. It could provoke the Shebab to carry out attacks."
Last year Shebab militants launched a Christmas attack on Mogadishu airport that killed at least 12 people.
Somalia is at least the second Muslim majority country to ban Christmas in 2015, after Brunei announced a similar prohibition. Somalia also issued a previous ban in 2013.
Somalia also follows the Islamic calendar that does not recognize January 1 as the beginning of the year.
There are almost no Christians left living in Somalia, although a bombed-out Italian-built Catholic cathedral remains a city landmark in the capital Mogadishu.
Foreign diplomats, aid workers and soldiers living in the fortified airport compound are permitted to hold private parties.