Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has slammed Bethlehem during his campaign event.
Here are the details of the news.
DeSantis Critiques Bethlehem: Campaign Controversies and Polling Impacts
On Wednesday, Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis denounced Bethlehem, a Christian pilgrimage city believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, as a “disgrace” and a “pigsty.”
During his campaign stop in Iowa, the Florida governor asserted that the city is under the control of “Palestinian Arabs.”
According to the reports, DeSantis said in Clinton, “And whenever I visited Bethlehem, honestly, it was a pigsty, it was a disgrace, how nasty it was.”
“So, you have this beautiful church that commemorates the birth of Christ, and it’s not, it’s beautiful, but you come out of the church, and they built this, like, massive mosque towering over it. That’s intentional. That’s what they would do,” DeSantis added.
In his statement, the Florida Governor probably referred to Omar Ibn Al Khattab, the only mosque in Bethlehem’s Old City opposite the Church of the Nativity.
Historical Context of Bethlehem and Its Significance
Bethlehem City is known as the biblical birthplace of Jesus and is a major Christian pilgrimage destination.
The sources state, “It was built in 1860 on land granted by the Greek Orthodox Church in honor of Omar, the Prophet Muhammad’s father-in-law, who in 637 took Jerusalem from the flagging Byzantines and then stopped for prayer at the Christian Church of the Nativity.”
The Pact of Omar declared it as a Christian place of worship.
This is not the first time DeSantis has criticized Bethlehem during his 2024 campaign. Earlier, at the 2023 Presidential Thanksgiving FAMiLY Forum in Iowa, DeSantis said, “In fact, Bethlehem is controlled by the Palestinian Arabs. And so there, there’s a church where you can go where they, they say, is where Christ was born. And it’s a beautiful church. But (when) you walk out, first of all, it’s like a pigsty. The city is not well-kept. And then they built this massive mosque right in front of it to like a tower over it.”
His earlier comments appeared to support Israel in its war with Hamas. He said, “Israelis are caretakers of the most important history that we have,” and Arabs would not allow Christians to “walk in the footsteps of where Jesus walked” and visit important biblical sites.
DeSantis’s Political Trajectory and Presidential Aspirations
DeSantis is a major presidential candidate who announced his candidacy in May 2023. Throughout his campaign, he has been representing himself as the economic defender of America, claiming to protect American families culturally. The Florida governor has been considered an alternative to former president Donald Trump for his political stance on cultural issues. However, his popularity as a presidential candidate has diminished.
To boost his campaign, DeSantis has mainly focused on Iowa for months because a win in one of the most important early-voting states can give his campaign significant momentum to increase his polling number. DeSantis trails behind the former president by more than 50 percentage points. Moreover, he has been facing strong competition from other Republican presidential candidates and a former South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, who has been seen in a tie with DeSantis for the second spot for the GOP nomination.
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