Friday, December 2, 2011

Record Bethlehem PilgrimageSunday, December 26, 2010 | 4:36 pm
executive summary by darmansjah

Bethlehem, Saturday - Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus in the West Bank, Palestine, Saturday (25/12), recorded the highest number of tourists pilgrims in the last ten years. Since Friday night, according to city officials Bethlehem, no less than 90,000 tourists flowing into the city.

Since violence erupted and the Palestinian resistance in 2000 ago, a small town which is the goal of this Christian pilgrims abandoned many years despite the pas Christmas though. This time the number of tourists nearly doubled from last year, only 50,000 tourists.

Besides the weather was too cool, the easing of violence compared to previous years and began
writhe economy in the West Bank to make the Christmas holiday is a harvest time for the tourism industry the town of Bethlehem.

"We are seekers of peace, in
Commemoration Jesus," said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a Muslim. "We hope next year is the year of peace, with the recognition of an independent Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital and coexist in security and peace with Israel," said the Palestinian leader, as quoted by the Associated Press on Saturday.

Mahmoud Abbas visited Bethlehem deliberately to greet the tourists, to express his hope for peace in Palestine in the future. Abbas also said the Palestinian issue a special stamp featuring Bethlehem.

Friday night before Christmas, thousands of people thronged Manger Square (a place that is believed to be the location of the stable and manger where animals eat animals that are used to bed the baby Jesus) is bathed in light colors, red, blue, green, and yellow in the sky. Thousands of pilgrims had Christmas music troupe blew the trumpet and singing Christmas carols in Arabic on Palestinian land. Palestinian policemen were maintaining security around the Manger Square.

Manger Square 

The Israeli military, which controls the checkpoints into the city of Jesus' birth, revealing not know the number of visitors who flood this time Bethlehem. It is estimated that there would be more tourists coming the day after Christmas. They generally are a small number of Christian communities in the Gaza Strip who received special permission from Israel only for the Christmas holidays.

Only a third of the population of Bethlehem, which number 50,000, the Christian religion. Decreased when compared with figures in the 1950's, which had indicated that about 75 percent of the population at that time were Christian. The rest, about two-thirds, are Muslims.

The population of Christians in the Middle East is declining in recent decades because of the avoidance of increased violence in the region or indeed the intention of earning a living is more feasible in other regions.

Currently the number of Christians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reach only about 2 percent of the population.

Economic rise

With the end of the war, the West Bank experienced an economic revival in recent years. New shopping centers popping up and development projects in a growing city, Ramallah.

Also, increasing development in the town who became a tourist destination on the day of Christmas, Bethlehem is now enlivened by 2750 the hotel. Some hotels, according to the city manager, now under construction.

However, the deadlock of peace talks between Israel and the West Bank, Palestine, and the outbreak of violence again in the Gaza Strip recently threatened to end the frenetic celebration like this.

Due to the increased violence in Gaza, the tourists who entered Bethlehem to go through checkpoint metal detector is tight, as it passes through a special separation fence built by Israel, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, because of increased Palestinian attacks in the last decade.

Most tourists are local residents own the land of Palestine, among them are Muslim women who wear veils covering the face.

Even funnel hardener, which is usually a call to prayer from the mosque not far from the Crib of Jesus in Bethlehem, held turned off during Christmas celebrations. In the Christmas holidays this time, the atmosphere was like an invisible force. (AP / AFP / sha)

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