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Tuesday, 25 December, 2001, 02:08 GMT
In pictures: Bethlehem's sombre Christmas
Christmas celebrations are held in Bethlehem, but the events are marred by the Middle East conflict - with many tourists staying away and protests being staged over the absence of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah
The Christmas procession was led by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Children dressed as Father Christmas join Bethlehem Christmas procession
It attracted participants of all ages

Girl holding Christmas balloon in Bethlehem
And locals turned out to watch the festivities

Scouts playing the bagpipes in Bethlehem
Young Scouts provided a musical accompaniment

Trainee priests in Bethlehem
Trainee priests lined up to take part

Child lighting a candle in Bethlehem
In the Church of the Nativity people lit candles to mark Christ's birth

A boy arranges crib figures in Bethlehem
And the traditional nativity crib was given centre place

People gather in front of the Church of the Nativity
But most tourists stayed away amid security fears

Protests in Bethlehem
Palestinians protested over Israel's travel ban on Yasser Arafat

See also:

24 Dec 01 | Middle East
Christians quit Christ's birthplace
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