Media Advisory - Churches in Palestine hold special services in honour of Nelson Mandela
Christian communities throughout Palestine held special services on Sunday (December 8) in honour of Nelson Mandela. Palestinian Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant congregations dedicated their prayers to the South African leader and anti-apartheid icon who publicly supported, defended and backed the Palestinian struggle to end Israel's illegal occupation and "Apartheid policies". (Photos attached)
The South African Council of Churches Youth Forum (SACCYF) humbly welcomes the prayers and memorials being held in Palestine for our former President, Nelson Mandela. SACCYF is appreciative of the humility of the Palestinians who are not enjoying any freedoms in their occupied lands and continuing dispossession of their lands by the Israeli government. Together with the rest of the world we celebrate the God's gift of Madiba to the South African nation and to the rest of the world with the hope that the day for Palestinians to be free would one day be realized and we shall continue to pray for in our lives.  

In the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah, senior Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials joined over 200 members of the public together with representatives from the South African Embassy in Palestine at a mass in the Holy Family Roman Catholic church. The service was led by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah along with Father Raed Abusahlia. The church was decorated with a photograph of Mandela and another showing him with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (

Dr Hanan Ashrawi, senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), attended the special service in Ramallah where she said, "The loss of Nelson Mandela is deeply felt not only in South Africa, but in Palestine as well and throughout the world. To him [Mandela] Palestine was not a question of solidarity or advocacy, but was one that he internalized and participated in as one of us [Palestinians]. The linkage between South Africa and Palestine that Mandela spelled out was one of shared principles and struggles, primarily for self-determination, freedom, and human dignity."

"I met him [Nelson Mandela] and talked to him several times since 1990 and was always touched by his humanity, his sense of morality and values, as well as his unwavering commitment to the Palestinian cause. To every Palestinian, Mandela remains an embodiment of the conscience of the world, and an expression of genuine leadership that combines humility and service with the courage and determination needed to speak truth to power and to strive for peace and justice," concluded Dr. Ashrawi.

In Bethlehem, over 250 Palestinians attended a special mass at Saint Catherine's Catholic Church, part of the Church of the Nativity complex (marking the traditional site of Jesus Christ's birth) with the presence of Palestinian officials including presidential advisers, ministers, the local Mayor of Bethlehem and the ambassador of South Africa to Palestine.
Before the creation of the modern State of Israel (by occupying and colonizing Palestine), Christians made up almost 20% of the indigenous Palestinian population. Due to the increasing Israeli occupation Christians now make up only 4% of the Palestinian population, they are mostly populated in the Palestinian towns of Bethlehem, Taybeh and Jerusalem.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas (currently in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial services), declared a day of mourning in Palestine last week, called for all flags to be flown at half mast and advised members of all faiths to hold prayer services in honour of the late South African President.

In a related item, Israeli forces on Friday last week allegedly clashed with Palestinian protestors that were holding a protest rally in honour of Nelson Mandela. The South African Council of Churches Youth Forum strongly condemns the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian-led Nelson Mandela rallies, protests and prayers.  The SACCYF would like to re-affirm its support for the Palestinian people in the same manner in which our departed Madiba would have wished for the Palestinian people to be free, have freedom of movement and to enjoy all the other freedoms which people of South Africa are enjoying today.

Media advisory released by:
Vuyani Pule
National President
South African Council of Churches (SACC) Youth Forum

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