By Harun Elbinawi
In the past, whenever the festival of Christmas approached, you would clearly see happiness and expectations on the faces of Christian brothers and sisters worldwide, including in Nigeria.
It doesnít happen anymore due to the economic downturn in the densely-populated West African country on the Gulf of Guinea. People are suffering and hungry in Nigeria.
As a Muslim activist for more than 30 years, every year around Christmas, I make it a point to highlight the historic closeness between Christianity and Islam and the need to build bridges amongst the adherents of both faiths.
Muslims and Christians are not enemies. They are brothers and sisters in humanity. In Islam, Christians are considered "People of the Book". In fact. among all religions of the world, it is only Christianity and Islam that believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus (AS) and the chastity of Mary (AS).
Unfortunately, a deviant trend in Islam, which you can name Wahhabism or Salafism, has played a notorious role in promoting Christian hate among Muslims, the way some deviant trends in the West have been busy fanning the flames of Islamophobia.
Everything about Wahhabism or Salafism or Takfirism is hate-mongering, acute intolerance and murderous terrorism. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Daesh, and Boko Haram belong to this school. For them, wishing Christians "Happy Christmas" is deemed haram (forbidden).
As an activist, I always remind Nigerian Muslims to help and assist their Christian brothers and sisters who are poor and needy. We have always been there for each other.
Muslims very well remember that it was the noble Christian king of Ethiopia who saved the persecuted Muslims more than 1400 years ago, at the time of the advent of Islam.
When the persecution of Makkah became unbearable, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sent dozens of Muslims under the leadership of his cousin, Jaafar Ibn Abu Talib (AS) to Ethiopia to seek refuge. The Ethiopian king accepted them and they stayed there for years.
It is important to note that Christianity was not born in Washington DC, London or Paris, but in the occupied West Bank, where the Zionist regime has tried to obliterate all signs of other religions.
The early Christians were not Europeans as some African Christians assume. The early Christians were Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Christianity came to Ethiopia before it came to Europe.
In Syria, there are Christian towns where people still speak the language that Jesus (AS) spoke.
Sadly, the Western-backed child-murdering Israeli regime has for decades oppressed and eliminated both Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestinian territories to let Zionists settle there.
In only the past 70 days, since the events of October 7, thousands of Palestinians, mostly children and women, have been killed in the besieged Gaza Strip that is administered by the Hamas group.
While the official death toll now stands close to 9,000 - of which 70 percent are children and women - according to some human rights groups, the regime has already killed nearly 25,000 Palestinians, including about 10,000 children in its 70-day genocidal campaign in the besieged territory.
As of December 14, 24,711 Palestinians had been killed, according to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. Almost 92 percent of those killed in the Israeli air and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip were civilians, including 9,643 children, 3,109 women, 210 health personnel, and 83 journalists, it said.
Most of the hospitals in Gaza have been bombed and destroyed by the genocidal Israeli regime. Just two days ago, the regime forces crushed Palestinians using bulldozers in the courtyard of Kamal Adwan Hospital, burying many of them alive.
Despite this genocidal terrorism in occupied Palestine against Palestinian Muslims and Christians, there are still African Christians who support this racist apartheid Zionist regime.
The regime in Tel Aviv was the closest ally of the racist apartheid South African regime. All the torture methods used to murder Black activists in South Africa were exported by Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Nelson Mandela strongly supported the Free Palestine movement and often spoke about it. We must salute the extraordinary bravery, courage, resilience and sacrifice of the people of Gaza - both Muslims and Christians - in their struggle for the liberation of occupied territories.
They remain steadfast with dignity and honor despite the worst atrocities and crippling blockade.
Some people lost all members of their families. Some children lost both parents and parents lost all their children. And some neighborhoods were completely removed from the government registry.
British politician and activist George Galloway sums up the Zionist barbarism very succinctly.
"If Mary were on her journey this evening, Jesus would be giving birth at a checkpoint. If indeed the mother, the Holy Mother, Mary, was not murdered at the scene of the crime. Thanks to the deliberate actions of Israel, Nazareth is in bondage. Bethlehem is under siege. Jerusalem, ancient alleyways run with the blood of the believers, both Christian and Muslim."
Christian brothers and sisters around the world must remember those murdered by the Israeli regime in Gaza as they celebrate Christmas. All children are innocent including the children of Palestine.
Harun Elbinawi is a Nigerian political and public affairs analyst.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Ansar Press )