From Fox News:
As Christians from across the globe flock to the Holy Land in time for Christmas prayers and ceremonies, some in the community in Nazareth are seeking to reaffirm the historical importance of their town by erecting a statue of Jesus that would tower more than 100 feet above the city.
The idea for the statue comes from Bishara Shlayan, a Christian merchant seaman who lives in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus.
Shlayan has seen the demographics of Nazareth change considerably in recent years, with the Christian community becoming a minority while the Muslim population has grown to 70 percent of the 80,000 residents of the northern Israeli town.
“Slowly, but surely, the Christian identity in Nazareth is beginning to disappear,” said Shlayan, noting that signs in the main square declare that “There is no power but Allah.”
The plan is for the statue of Jesus to be sit atop Mount Precipice, also known as the Mount of the Leap of the Lord, the promontory where according to Luke 4:29-30, a mob attempted to drive Jesus off the hilltop only for him to pass through them without injury.
Shlayan is raising money for the project, but recently got what may be even more important backing: Israel’s Tourism Minister Uzi Landau gave him the green light, saying, “Start it, and we will bless it.”
“I don’t believe in statues, but it is a symbol of love and peace,” Shlayan told The Jerusalem Post. “People who are against it, it comes from jealousy.”
The statue is inspired by the iconic Christ the Redeemer figure that dominates the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but would be even taller, said Shlayan.