December 16, 2017 / 3:58 PM / 7 months ago

Nazareth Christmas celebrations will be held as normal: mayor

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Nazareth, the Israeli Arab city where Jesus is thought to have been raised, will celebrate Christmas as usual, its mayor said, denying the festivities would be curtailed in protest at the U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Arabs perform a nativity scene for tourists in the northern town of Nazareth December 22, 2008. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

On Wednesday, a city spokesman said there would be some cuts to the celebrations to protest against President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem that angered Palestinians as well as U.S. allies in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Mayor Ali Salam told Reuters on Saturday that three singers who had been due to perform would not appear. He gave no reason for their absence, but said that the celebrations would proceed as normal.

“I don’t know why people thought that there would be cuts to the celebrations. Everything, except for three singers who will not be coming, will be held as normal. We have already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today,” Salam said.

Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel with a population of 76,000 Muslims and Christians, is one of the Holy Land’s focal points of Christmas festivities which begin officially on Saturday evening.

Nazareth’s imposing Basilica of the Annunciation is built on a site that many Christian faithful believe was the childhood home of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

FILE PHOTO: Boys wearing Santa Claus costumes are carried during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the northern town of Nazareth, the town of Jesus' boyhood, December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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