Flocking to Bethlehem for Christmas 24Dec10 December 25, 2010

Aljazeera -  24 December 2010

Speaking to Al Jazeera in Bethlehem, Munib Younan, the president of the Lutheran World Federation, which represents about 70 million Christians, said he was happy more tourists and pilgrims are visiting the birthplace of Jesus.

“Today we are also happy to see both Muslims and Christians celebrating Christmas together in Bethlehem,” he said, noting that Christmas was a holiday in both Palestine and Jordan.

Younan, who is also the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, said a survey by Palestinian Christians in 2009 showed three reasons why they are emigrating from this part of the world.

“There is no persecution whatsoever. The reasons are mainly an uncertain political situation with no hope for peace and justice given the state of the occupation, the lack of jobs and the growth of extremism both in Palestine and in Israel,” he said.

“All these create fear among Palestinian Christians, driving them out of the area. This year our message to them is not to be afraid and to stay in the country.

“Only by living here will they understand why God created them to be in the Holy Land … and that will give them steadfastness to remain here.”

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