December 25, 2007, - 2:43 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s interesting. Last night and all day today, TV news reports either claim (falsely) that it’s more peaceful in Jesus’ Bethlehem now because of the “peace” talks, or they say it isn’t and blame the Israelis for “checkpoints.” The same goes for print.
But, instead of using Christmas to attack Israel–even though they are safer because of Israelis and under attack all over the Muslim world, where they mostly must hold Mass in secret–you aren’t hearing much about Christmas in HAMASastan a/k/a Gaze. Maybe that’s because this one they can’t falsely pin on THE JOOOOS, no matter how much they want to. And, yet, they still try . . . even in this article. This story is telling of who is persecuting Christians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other Islamist land, as examplified, by the atmosphere on the day of Jesus’ birth, in HAMASastan:
Gaza’s tiny Christian community is keeping a low profile this Christmas, traumatized by the killing of a prominent activist in the wake of Hamas’ takeover of the coastal territory.
Few Christmas trees are on display, churches are holding austere services and hundreds of Christians hope to travel to the [Fatah]-controlled West Bank to celebrate the holiday in Bethlehem. Many say they don’t plan on returning to Gaza.
“We have a very sad Christmas,” said Essam Farah, acting pastor of Gaza’s Baptist Church, which has canceled its annual children’s party because of the grim atmosphere.
About 3,000 Christians live in Gaza, an overwhelmingly conservative Muslim territory of 1.5 million people. It has been virtually cut off from the world and its residents driven deeper into poverty since the June takeover by Hamas . . . .
Hamas seized control and tensions were exacerbated with the recent death of 32-year-old Rami Ayyad.
Ayyad, a member of the Baptist Church, managed Gaza’s only Christian bookstore. In early October, he was found shot in the head, his body thrown on a Gaza street 10 hours after he was kidnapped from the store.
He regularly received death threats from people angry about his perceived missionary work–a rarity among Gaza’s Christians–and the store was firebombed six months before the kidnapping. . . .
Christians fear that the Hamas takeover, along with the lack of progress in finding Ayyad’s killers, has emboldened Islamic extremists. . . .
At the Baptist Church on Sunday, just 10 people attended the regular weekly prayer service, down from an average of 70. There was no Christmas tree in sight.
Farah said the church’s full-time pastor, along with his family and 12 employees of Ayyad’s store, have relocated to the West Bank . . . . Farah said he prayed for forgiveness and love among Muslims and Christians. [DS: Keep praying.]
Community leaders say an unprecedented number of Christian families are already migrating from Gaza _ rattled by the religious tensions and tough economic sanctions Israel imposed on the area after the Hamas takeover.
While no official statistics were available, the signs of the flight are evident. Rev. Manuel Musallem, head of Gaza’s Roman Catholic church, said he alone knows of seven families that sold their properties and left the area, and 15 more are preparing to do the same.
Musallem blamed Israeli sanctions and excessive violence in Gaza for the flight. [DS: When Muslims Persecute Christians in a Muslim region, Blame the . . . . Jews, who left there 2.5 years ago.] . . .
“Exit is not on individual basis. Whole families are leaving, selling their cars, homes and all their properties.”
The signs of despair are evident at Ayyad’s home. Posters declaring him a “martyr of Jesus” hang on the walls. There is no Christmas tree this year.
Ayyad’s older brother, 35-year old Ibrahim, said his 6-year old son, Khedr, was nagged in school about his uncle’s murder. Muslim schoolmates call him “infidel.”
Ayyad’s wife, Pauline, 29, left for Bethlehem a month ago with her two children. She said their 3-year-old son, George, has been shattered by his father’s death.
“I tell him Papa Noel (Santa Claus) is coming to see you, and he tells me he wants Papa Rami,” she said tearfully during a telephone interview.
Pauline, who is seven months pregnant, said she plans to come back to Gaza for the birth. [DS: Big mistake.]
But many Christians privately said they would use their travel permits to leave Gaza for good. . . .
A family of four, refusing to be identified for fear their permits would be revoked, have sold their house and car and packed their bags. The wife has transferred her job to the West Bank and enrolled her son and daughter in school there. “We fear what is to come,” said the husband.
Fouad, a distant relative of Ayyad, said he also is packing up. He said his father, a guard at a local church, was stopped recently by unknown bearded men who put a gun to his head before he was rescued by passers-by.
“We don’t know why it happened,” the 20-year-old police officer said. “We can’t be sure how they (Muslims) think anymore.”
Those who are staying are trying to limit the risks. Nazek Surri, a Roman Catholic, walked out from Sunday’s service with a Muslim-style scarf covering her head.
“We have to respect the atmosphere we are living in. We have to go with the trend,” she said.
Sadly, that is the trend all over the world. . . even here in the U.S. Trying being a Christian Arab in Dearbornistan. Good luck.
Tags: Afghanistan, austere services, Ayyad, Baptist Church, Christmas, Debbie Schlussel It, Essam Farah, Fatah, Gaza, George, guard, Hamas, head, Ibrahim, Iraq, Israel, Khedr, Manuel Musallem, Massachusetts, member, Nazek Surri, Pauline, police officer, prominent activist, Rami Ayyad, Roman Catholic Church, West Bank