The Telegraph has a report: “Massacre of the innocents: Isil are today’s King Herods say Archbishops”
Britain’s two most senior clerics have drawn on the darker side of the nativity story in hard-hitting Christmas sermons warning of the possible “elimination” of Christianity from the region of its birth.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, both draw comparisons between the Biblical account of the mass murder of children around Bethlehem on the orders of King Herod and the 21st Century Jihadist threat.
In his Christmas morning sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby is expected to warn that that the so-called Islamic State group – also known as Isil, Isis or Daesh – wants to bring “apocalypse” to the Middle East and beyond, driven by an obsessive belief that they are living in the “last days”.
Meanwhile Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, also used his Christmas address to speak of the surge in murder driven by faith, something he condemned as “abhorrent”.
The Mail also reports on this, reporting Welby’s words further:
He will tell the congregation: ‘Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirms that these are indeed the end times. They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began. This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death.’
The Archbishop, the head of the global Anglican communion, will add: ‘To all who have been or are being dehumanised by the tyranny and cruelty of a Herod or an ISIS, a Herod of today, God’s judgment comes as good news, because it promises justice.’
The Express warns us that UK cities at risk of BOXING DAY terror attack – and what to do if ISIS strikes
With the day after Christmas set to draw thousands out of their turkey-filled stupor onto the UK’s high streets, fears have been raised over crazed jihadis taking out a Paris-style attack. A terror expert has warned Christian-hating ISIS – also called Daesh – supporters could be plotting to use the festive day to send out a devastating message. It comes as MI5 has put the UK terror threat from international terrorism at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Will Geddes, head of global security firm International Corporate Protection, believes the ever-increasing cuts to Britain’s security services are putting Britons even more at risk of an attack – and Boxing Day would provide the ideal situation for the terrorists.
Mr Geddes said: “I don’t think Christmas Day will be a target for ISIS, even though it’s a Christian holiday, because there won’t be big crowds which is what they want for maximum impact. But Boxing Day could be as lots of people will be out for the sales in cities across the UK, all gathered in big crowds.”
But, in another report they counter ISIS with: “Has ISIS shot themselves in the foot? Jihadis have ‘brought Russia and West CLOSER’”
Both Russia and Britain have been pounding the twisted jihadi group, also known as Daesh, with frequent air strikes in Syria as the nations collaborate in the fight against terror. Russia claims to have wiped out hundreds of terrorists in the war-torn country since starting their bombing campaign at the end of September.
Britain then answered a rallying cry from world leaders after MPs voted in favour at the House of Commons this month of extending air strikes from Iraq into Syria. Just a week after the historic vote, Prime Minster David Cameron spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the political pair pledged to work together to finally obliterate the terror group.
But Sir Tony Brenton, former British ambassador to Russia, said this could be one of the first signs of tensions between the two countries finally beginning to thaw. However, he maintained that there are “still a few problems” preventing friendship from being permanently cemented as the West looks set to extend sanctions against Russia and the unrest in Ukraine rages on.
The Guardian reports on the Beijing security alert: Australia, Britain and US warn citizens to be vigilant
Countries including Australia, Britain and the US have issued Christmas security warnings for westerners in Beijing’s popular Sanlitun diplomatic and entertainment district as Chinese police step up patrols.
Beijing is generally safe and criminals rarely target foreigners, although the fashionable Sanlitun bar and restaurant area occasionally sees fights. In August a lone attacker stabbed a French man and a Chinese woman there. The woman died. The US embassy said in a brief statement on Thursday that it had “received information of possible threats” against westerners in Sanlitun, also home to many embassies, on or around Christmas Day.
The French embassy, Britain’s Foreign Office and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs issued similar warnings. None of them elaborated. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he was aware of the reports and that the government paid great attention to foreigners’ safety.
The Telegraph reckons it knows what’s in the Queen’s Speech with “Monarch quotes from Bible to address a nation shaken by year of atrocities”
The Queen will use her Christmas Day message to encourage people to find comfort in faith after a year marked by “moments of darkness” around the world. She will quote directly from the Bible to speak of light which “shines in the darkness”.
Her comments come at the end of a year in which Britain has been stunned by terrorist atrocities, from the mass shootings and bombings in Paris last month to the gun attack at a Tunisia resort during the summer.
Perhaps the image for which 2015 will be remembered will be the body of the three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach as his family tried to reach Europe.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, the monarch will say: “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year. But the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.” She will also speak of the festival as “a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for”.
As does the Guardian: “Queen’s Christmas message: light will overcome darkness”
It comes towards the end of a year in which a total of 130 people were killed in the attacks in the French capital, as well as a string of mass casualty attacks in countries including Tunisia, Nigeria and Syria. Added to those has been violence in Iraq and other countries, as well as a suspected terrorist attack that downed a passenger jet over the Sinai.
The Queen plans to note the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war by thanking those who served in the conflict. The Queen herself is a veteran of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.
She is shown at a desk adorned with three photographs, one of which shows the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two children, George and Charlotte, at the seven-month-old girl’s christening in July.
The other two pictures show Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, on their wedding day in 2005, and the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, leaning on walking sticks and laughing.
The Independent tells us that a Christmas Day full moon to appear in the UK sky for the first time in 38 years
A full moon is set to appear in the Christmas Day sky, for the first time in 38 years. The full moon is the last of the year, and is the first to occur on Christmas Day since 1977 – and there won’t be another until 2034, so it’s worth braving the cold to go out and see this rare spectacle.
According to Nasa, the full mooon is set to peak in brightness and visibility at the auspicious time of 11:11pm on 25 December, but it will naturally be bright in the sky throughout the day. Unfortunately, it’s set to be pretty cloudy over the whole of the UK on Christmas Day, and for much of Christmas Eve – so the chances of actually seeing the full moon are slim.
The Independent gives us a London Underground map given Christmas makeover
A man has brought Christmas cheer to the London Underground map by editing station names to highlight the festive season. From “North Pole Gate” to “Treegent’s Park” to “Silent Nightsbridge” – each station takes in a different aspect of Christmas celebrations. Only one station needed no amendment to be festive, Angel in Islington.
The Mail reports that Storm Eva hits Britain: As country prepares for a wet rather than white Christmas, emergency services warn of six inches of rain and flooding on Boxing Day
Britain is preparing for a wet rather than white festive season this year as Storm Eva passed over the country leaving behind downpours set to intensify late on Christmas Day. The UK is preparing for up to six inches of rain as the already saturated county of Cumbria braces itself for yet more flooding, though the worst of it is not likely to hit until late Christmas Day.
There is also a yellow ‘be aware’ warning for heavy rain from Christmas Day to Boxing Day across a wide area of north-west England – a fragment of 100 flood alerts and warnings in place for England, Wales and Scotland. Storm Eva roared in across Ireland and western coasts of the UK yesterday, bringing strong winds of up to 75mph and heavy downpours – and almost 2,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are without electricity today after the fifth named storm of winter damaged power lines.
The Met Office said rain will spread northwards across Cumbria during the afternoon and evening of Christmas Day. Then, during the early hours of Boxing Day, the rain is likely to turn heavy at times and then persist through most of the day.
It has also put out an amber ‘be prepared’ severe weather warning for up to 150mm (5.9in) of rain in the county on Boxing Day. But meanwhile Britain is on track to break the record for its warmest December since records began in 1910 while some areas have seen their wettest.