Christmas preparations around the world include heightened security measures in Islamic terrorism hotspots. Countries targeted in the past, including in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, ramped up efforts to prevent attacks during the holidays.
Last month, a man stabbed two people to death and injured three others on the London Bridge. Fearing copycat attacks, police increased their security presence for large public gatherings like sporting events and Christmas markets, the Daily Express reported.
The 450-year-old Christkindelsmärik market reopened this year in Strasbourg, France, after a man killed five people and wounded 11 others at the market last year. Authorities said they’ve reinforced security to make it “more dynamic and better coordinated.”
“We think about the attack, but it won’t stop us,” one Strasbourg woman said. “You have to go out and not give way to fear, otherwise they will have won.”
A terrorist drove a truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market in 2016, killing 12. Germany has prevented seven attacks since, according to the news outlet Deutsche Welle. This year, authorities called for vigilance with an updated terror warning from Germany’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Egypt’s government deployed military forces to help police guard Coptic Christian churches and Sufi mosques this year, Al-Monitor reported. The country suffered several Christmastime attacks in recent years, including a 2011 New Year’s Eve bombing of Alexandria’s Two Saints Church.
Israel originally cited security concerns as the reason it would not allow Christians from Gaza to visit Jerusalem or Bethlehem this Christmas. Although last year Israel granted travel permits for 700 Christians, earlier in December the government said it would only permit them to travel abroad this year. After facing a backlash from Christian Palestinian leaders and an Israeli human rights group, the government agreed to allow a maximum of 500 permits for Christian Palestinians to visit “in accordance with security assessments.”
Asian countries are also concerned about terrorism over the holidays. Indonesia is expected to nearly double security compared to last year in order to guard 50,000 churches and vital tourist sites, UCA News reported. Meanwhile Bangladeshi Christians requested additional security to keep their neighborhoods safe during seasonal celebrations.