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Church leaders call off Christmas celebrations to mourn Karak attack victims

By Suzanna Goussous - Dec 19,2016 - Last updated at Dec 19,2016

AMMAN — Church representatives and residents in governorates across Jordan on Monday announced cancelling Christmas celebrations to mourn the loss of the security personnel and civilians in the southern city of Karak.

On Sunday night, 10 people were killed in Karak, some 150km south of Amman, including four police officers and three gendarmes, and four terrorists were killed in the operation.

Two civilians and a Canadian national were killed, with 34 civilians and police officers injured during the attack, according to officials.

Fuheis Mayor Huweishel Akroush said the municipality cannot hold its annual Christmas and holiday season celebrations after the death of innocent civilians and security personnel.

“Every year, we celebrate the holidays together as one entity. This year, we will be mourning the death of our people in Karak, including the civilians and policemen,” he told The Jordan Times. 

The municipality had planned to light the main Christmas tree on Thursday, but the event was cancelled, as “it is not appropriate to celebrate while other Jordanians are grieving the loss of family members”, Akroush said.

“We cancelled all the celebrations and events for Christmas this year. The country mourns the loss of the victims. Celebrations cannot be held as others are mourning,” he added. 

Fuheis resident Ayman Samawi said the decision to cancel Christmas celebrations shows the unity of the Jordanian people. 

Samawi, who is a member of the Orthodox club in Fuheis, 20km northwest of Amman, said the club had turned off the lights of the Christmas trees at its premises and on the circle located in the city centre. 

In Fuheis and Karak, church bells rang to mourn the victims of the terror attack in the southern governorate, residents said.

“Church bells ring today to mourn our victims and to show the world the people of Jordan stand tall against acts of terrorism and darkness,” Samawi added.

Head of the Orthodox Church in Karak, Father Adel Madanat, said, Muslims and Christians have been living together for decades in the southern city.

“We have shared tough and joyous times together. Out of respect, we will cancel all the events and festivities for the holiday season,” Madanat said, calling for trusting security agencies in Karak and respecting the law.

Another Karak resident said Christians in the city will not celebrate and decorate their homes for Christmas to show respect to the dead and their families.

“Jordan is not divided. We are all mourning the losses of Karak. Regardless of our religions, origins or political affiliations, Christmas is not the same when Jordan is mourning,” she added.

From Madaba, Father Iyad Bader said Latin and Catholic churches in Jordan have also cancelled their celebrations in solidarity with the families’ victims. 

The Catholic Centre for Studies and Media issued a statement condemning the terror attack on the southern governorate, urging churches in all governorates to call off the season’s celebrations.

The centre cancelled the scheduled plan to light a Christmas tree near the Airport Road on Wednesday, according to Bader.

 

Madaba resident Sally Alsalem told The Jordan Times “it is every Jordanian’s responsibility to express solidarity with the victims and to mourn the murder of Jordanian civilians, policemen and gendarmes”.

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