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Egypt urges Muslims to wish Christians a happy holiday

8 January 2019

Officials in Egypt have published an animated video, depicting Christmas symbols and Christians wearing crosses, encouraging Muslims to “congratulate non-Muslims on their holidays”.

The Egyptian Fatwa Institute, affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, uploaded the video on YouTube on 13 December saying the giving of greetings “is encouraged by Islam, and is in keeping with the noble manners introduced by the Prophet Mohammed”.

The video adds, “Islam has acknowledged the principle of peaceful coexistence with all people, regardless of their faith,” and warns Muslims not to “fall prey to the extremists and the fanatics, who take from the religion only that which suits their whims”.

An image from the animated video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. The narration refers to "non-Muslims" celebrating holidays, but Christians are clearly depicted in the video imagery

Islamic State increasingly targeted Christians in Egypt last year. In the most devastating attacks, gunmen left a total of 36 dead after twice targeting buses taking Christians to a historical site near Minya, in May and November. Egypt’s President al-Sisi condemned the attacks, speaking of his “sorrow for the martyrs”. In 2017 nearly 50 Christians were killed in suicide bombings at two churches on Palm Sunday.

Elsewhere in the world, Muslim leaders have condemned the passing of greetings to Christians at Christmas. An imam in Canada said the congratulating of non-Muslims on “their false festivals” was worse than adultery or murder.