Friday, March 14, 2008

Palm Friday, 2008

While good Muslims pray five times every day, Friday afternoon is the time of the khutba, and many Islamic countries require that every business close Friday afternoons to allow people to attend. In consequence, Christian churches operating in Muslim countries often move their Sunday services to Friday, so today was Palm Friday for the UAE Christians.

Dubai has, to my knowledge, one cathedral, located on a small side street, directly across from the Pakistan Club and the Egyptian Club.

Today, that street was blocked off to all vehicular traffic. Club goers and worshipers could walk to their destinations, but the usual parking was prohibited, and police stood at each end of the street to enforce the restriction. (I could say that this resulted in a huge traffic snarl, but saying that there was a huge traffic snarl in Dubai is merely trite.)

At the entrance to the cathedral grounds, policewomen checked all handbags and backpacks.

The conjecture is that this is a reaction to the murder, discovered on Thursday, of an Iraqi archbishop, but, as usual, Dubai police gave no explanations for their actions.

While they had to walk, Christians turned out in large numbers to observe Palm Friday, and the UAE Christian churches were more crowded than most churches will be in the Christian West on Palm Sunday.



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