Somalia has banned Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
“All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage the faith of the Muslim community,” the director general of Somalia's religious affairs ministry, Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow told reporters.
Police have been given orders to forcibly break up any such festivities.
The move comes after the Sultan of Brunei imposed a five-year jail sentence on anyone caught celebrating Christmas outwardly.
Christians are permitted to celebrate, but not “excessively and openly.” Decorations have been banned from all public places, including many hotels which, in former years, have had extensive displays.
“Using religious symbols like crosses, lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings … are against Islamic faith,” a statement put out by a group of imams read.
“This will be the saddest Christmas ever for me,” a Malaysian resident of Brunei told reporters.
However, the Sultan of Brunei’s chains of hotels in America and Europe will be having Christmas decorations.
Brunei introduced sharia law last year, and it is being implemented in phases. It began with fines for for breaches such as out-of-wedlock preganancy and failure to attend Friday prayers. Floggings, amputations and executions will be instituted later.
Somalia and Brunei join most of the countries that implement sharia as state law in placing severe restrictions on Christianity.
Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.