Turkey's top officials release Christmas messages
The Turkish president, prime minister, parliament speaker and head of Turkey's main opposition party released messages Friday to wish the Christian world a happy Christmas holiday, Anadolu News Agency reported.
In a greeting message released by the Presidential Press Office, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said all Turkish citizens, regardless of their origins and beliefs, were equal members of the republic and indispensable elements of the public.
"Turkey, just like it did in the past, will continue to contribute to peace and stability in its region and the world, and to support efforts aiming at establishing dialogue between different cultures and beliefs," Gul said.
"With such an understanding, I would like to offer my greetings to our Christian citizens and the whole Christian world on the occasion of Christmas and wish them happiness, success and welfare," the president added.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also wished Catholics and Protestants in Turkey and all over the world a happy Christmas in his greeting message.
"Although there is Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and anti-Christian movements in some parts of the world today, Islam, which was born and has developed in this territory for thousands of years, is based on a tradition of love, solidarity, peace and tolerance," Erdogan said.
"In the light of this understanding, our Christian and Jewish citizens have been practising their beliefs and traditions in the best way in these lands for centuries. They will continue to do so in an atmosphere of peace and safety from now on," the premier noted.
In another message, Turkish Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin said that the Turkish nation gained its strength from the unity of all its citizens including Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities.
"We sincerely share with our Christian citizens the joy, tolerance and brotherhood the Christmas brings," Sahin said.
"I hope the Christmas holiday brings peace to the Christian world and all the humanity," he added.
Moreover, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said in his message that he hoped Christmas would bring peace and happiness to all Christians and particularly the Christian citizens living on the Anatolian territory.
Christmas is a holiday observed generally on December 25th to commemorate the birth of Jesus.
Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a world-wide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.
Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends, and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.