search

3rd Christmas tree outside church set alight in northern Arab city of Sakhnin

Graffiti objecting to cartoon depictions of Mohammed spray-painted on wall outside Catholic church

A screen capture of video from social media shows a Christmas tree that was set on fire outside a church in the northern Arab Israeli city of Sakhnin, December 30, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A screen capture of video from social media shows a Christmas tree that was set on fire outside a church in the northern Arab Israeli city of Sakhnin, December 30, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A Christmas tree outside a church in the northern Arab Israeli city of Sakhnin was set ablaze early Wednesday, in the third such incident in a week.

Arabic graffiti reading “except the Prophet Mohammed” was spray painted on the wall outside the Catholic church, a phrase used by protesters in France demonstrating against cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.

Police opened an investigation, and Sakhnin Mayor Safwat Abu Raya called an emergency meeting with municipal officials and Christian and Muslim leaders, the Haaretz daily said.

The incident came after a tree outside the same church was burned over the weekend, along with another tree outside an Orthodox church. Police were investigating those fires as arson attacks.

According to Haaretz, a recording of a Sakhnin resident insulting Mohammed has made the rounds on social media in recent days, though he later released a video apologizing in the presence of a priest and imam in a bid to prevent any flare-up of violence.

After the trees were burned over the weekend, a senior official in the Christian community said the repetition showed there was malicious intent behind the fires. “We demand that the security forces and the state authorities treat the incident as a terrorist attack. It is mandatory to bring the terrorists to justice,” Wadia Abu Nasser told the Ynet news site.

Former MK Masud Ganaim, a resident of Sakhnin, told Channel 12 news that the alleged attack was an attempt to cause divisions between the city’s Christian and Muslim residents.

“Sinful and malicious [people] try every year to sow discord and division among the residents of the city. The attempt to burn the Christmas tree is a malicious act, and we condemn it,” Ganaim said.

read more:
comments