The Somali government has banned both Christmas and New Year’s celebration saying they are “contrary to Islamic culture” and that such events could be targets of terrorism. The regime stated that festivities could “damage the faith of the Muslim community.”
There are very few Somali Christians however the country contains more than 22,000 peacekeepers many of whom are Christian, reported the Washington Post.
“All security forces are advised to halt or dissolve any gatherings,” the director general of Somalia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, Mohamed Khayrow, said.
“There should be no activity at all,” he continued.
The fear is that celebrations could prompt another attack. Last year an assault was carried out on an African Union base by al-Shabaab when militants opened fire on a Christmas party killing several peacekeepers and a civilian contractor.
The spokesman for the mayor of Mogadishu, Abdifatah Halane, told Reuters, “Christmas will not be celebrated in Somalia for two reasons; all Somalis are Muslims and there is no Christian community here. The other reason is for security.
“Christmas is for Christians. Not for Muslims.”
As the country typically uses the Islamic calendar the first of January is not considered the beginning of the year and therefore celebrations are not observed by the Muslim population.
Some have stated they consider the move by the government as a step in the same direction as al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist group the country is attempting to fight off.
Open Doors USA, a non-profit organisation aimed at assisting persecuted Christians, said “Christians are targeted by Islamic terrorists and clan authorities. As the government gains more control, state actors are joining the vicious two to persecute Christians.”