Hadash and religious officials in Nazareth demanded last week that the city cancel a planned visit to be held today and tomorrow, June 23-24, by a Nigerian pastor and televangelist, Temitope Balogun Joshua. The reactionary clerical figure plans to hold mass events on Mount Precipice, outside the southern edge of Nazareth, 2 km southwest of the modern city center.
T.B. Joshua is famous for performing exorcism rituals in his native country, and is set to hold two events at the Christian site near Nazareth. According to the Communist daily newspaper Al Ittihad, Nazareth Mayor Ali Sallam supports the visit, but many in the city oppose it, because the pastor has ties to far-right and settlers circles in Israel.
Hadash and the local municipal fraction “Youth for Change” in the Nazareth city council demanded a meeting late last week with the mayor about his decision to invite the pastor to hold an event at a municipal facility against the wishes of the majority of residents. “We have asked to closely examine why a city like Nazareth would receive such a person, one who is denied entry to many countries due to suspicions of criminal activity and given his links to the extreme right in Israel,” they wrote.
“What’s more, the man is known to have grown wealthy in a way that has raised many questions and therefore we view such a visit as an illegitimate step which stains the city and its historic heritage. We absolutely reject the mayor’s claims that such an event would bring $1 million to the city and, were such a sum to actually materialize, we would view it as an illegitimate contribution that would tarnish the city,” they wrote.
The visit has drawn criticism in Nazareth across political and religious lines. Church representatives have joined Islamic clerics in calling to cancel the events. Church officials meeting in Nazareth several days ago urged residents to boycott the visit and clerics to avoid any mention of it in their sermons.