: African press review 24 December 2015

South Africa’s Times reports that Somalia’s government banned the celebrations of Christmas and New Year citing fear of attacks by the Al Shebab Islamic insurgency. But as the paper found out, the real motives of the ban were evident in remarks made to the press by the Director General of the religious affairs ministry.

The official went on record telling journalists that security forces had been ordered to break up any Christmas celebrations, because the event is contrary to Islamic culture, and could damage the faith of the Muslim community.

Times Live says it is able to report that the government of the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country has however permitted foreign diplomats, aid workers and soldiers living in the fortified airport compound to hold private parties.

Times Live says the risks of attacks on anyone identified as a Christian in the predominantly Moslem country are very high, recalling last year’s bloody Christmas Day attack by Al-Shebab militants on Mogadishu airport that killed at least 12 people.

Also in South Africa, the Sowetan highlights the situation in Brunei, where Christmas celebrations have also been banned under a shift towards hardline Islamic law.

According to the paper, there are no tinsel-laden trees or Santa hats in the oil-rich sultanate following last year’s announcement by the all-powerful Sultan Hassan Bolkiah, one of the world’s richest men, that he would push ahead with the introduction of sharia law, eventually including tough penalties such as death by stoning or severed limbs.

In Zambia, the Times reports that some politicians are banking on Christmas to help wash away the hateful sentiments that have the potential to undo the great history of peace in the country.

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One such leader is Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND). According to the paper, Hichilema in his New Year address Wednesday, urged citizens, regardless of political affiliation, to celebrate the festive season with respect for the peace and calm Zambia enjoys.

In Nigeria, the festive season is lifting not just the hearts of Christians but those of Muslims as well, as they celebrate Eid-e Milad, the sacred birthday of the holy prophet Mohamed.

The Nation underlines the wonderful coincidence that saw the birthdays of the holy ones come in quick succession this year, arguably for the first time in the country’s history.

That according to the paper explains why President Muhammadu Buhari sent out a congratulatory message to Muslims and Christians alike, urging them to savor the momentous occasion, reflect on their teachings, life of piety, prayer and service to God and humanity and also emulate the sterling lifestyle of both the son and messenger of God.

He urged the state’s residents to embrace modesty in celebration and to be security-conscious during the season, which, he said, always witnessed upsurge in criminal activities.

And in Zimbabwe, the Herald tells the anguish of a man who has been forced to end a prayer retreat to lure his seperated wife back home before Christmas. According to the paper, Enock Johannes Matore’s hopes were dashed by the Harare High Court which has ruled that it had no powers to compel married couples to remain in marriage, when one party insists on divorce.

The paper reports that Matore had strongly opposed his wife of 12 years walking out of him arguing that he still loved her and was ready to pray for as long as it will take to shed the spirit of divorce which had possessed her. The Herald says money is the root cause of the divorce as the man put his wife and two children last while prioritizing his mother, siblings and cousins.

Source: rfi afrique