No Christmas in Rebel-Held Northern Syria

Prayers for Peace, But Conspicuous Lack of Celebration

by Jason Ditz, December 24, 2012

Christmas is not safe in northern Syria, particularly in the rebel-held areas around the outskirts of Aleppo. Not much is safe in northern Syria these days, but with rebels setting up Saudi-style religious police, anything conspicuously non-Sunni is dangerous.

That means celebrations are non-existent, as are public displays of Christmas decorations. Christmas is as low-key as possible, and local Christians wonder if this is going to be the new “normal” as the rebels gain ground in the region.

In Damascus things were a little more official, with Christians in the center of the capital putting up decorations and attending mass. With the whole nation torn apart by civil war, most of the focus was on praying for peace instead of celebrating the holiday.

Syria has a significant and ancient Christian minority which has tried to stay out of the war, but increasingly many have expressed concern that the Islamist leadership of the rebel forces would be a serious threat to remaining in the country.

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