December 25, 2011, - 5:11 pm
Frequently, I write about the dwindling number of Christians (and increasing attacks on them by the Muslim-dominated population) throughout every country in the Middle East, except the one where they can practice freely (Israel). It’s not just the Muslim bombing attack on Christian Church services today at two churches in Nigeria. *** UPDATE: It’s now FIVE churches bombed by Muslims in Nigeria, today for Christmas. *** The same goes for “liberated, democratic” Iraq, where, last year, Christians were forced to cancel their Christmas, including Mass, because of violence against them by Muslims. I’ve written about the fewer and fewer Christians in Gaza, where hatred and intolerance against them is the order of the day, and the Palestinian Authority, where, today, there are three Muslims to every one Christian in Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem, where Christians are persecuted and live in fear. Christian pilgrims who go there are giving mucho dinero to Muslims if they buy food or trinkets there, as the vast majority of vendors are Muslims who support the Fatah, HAMAS, or both. This is a business for them and they tolerate Christianity only insofar as that generates dollars for them. On every other day and in every other part of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, they persecute Christians, even murdering them for broadcasting Christian sermons or owning Christian bookstores. This year, it’s been worse–no surprise, as it gets worse each year. HAMAS canceled Christmas.
Sadly, the Christians still side against the Jews and bet on the Muslims, as recently happened when the Latin patriarch, last week, told Catholic and Greek Orthodox families to pray for the merger of HAMAS and Fatah.
When the Latin patriarch came to Gaza’s Holy Family church to celebrate Christmas mass last week, he instructed a full house of Catholic and Orthodox families to pray for reconciliation. As the archbishop, Fouad Twal, stood at the lectern in Gaza City, Fatah and Hamas leaders were meeting in Cairo attempting to mend differences that have divided the Palestinian factions for four years and rendered Gaza a besieged Islamist enclave.
Of the 1.5 million Palestinians now living in the Gaza Strip, fewer than 1,400 are Christian and those who can are leaving. The church hopes reconciliation will bring them back.
Dream on. That’s a fantasy if I ever heard one: the joinder of two Islamic terrorist groups–both of which persecute Christians–will be better for Christians? Huh?
There hasn’t been a Christmas tree in Gaza City’s main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday.
Imad Jelda is an Orthodox Christian who runs a youth training centre in Gaza City. . . . “People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous,” Jelda said. “The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves.”
Karam Qubrsi, 23, and his younger brother Peter, 21, are the eldest sons in one of Gaza’s 55 remaining Catholic families. Both wear prominent wooden crucifixes. “Jesus tells me, ‘if you can’t carry my cross, you don’t belong to me,’” Peter explained. It’s a demonstration of faith that has caused him some trouble.
He describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. “I told him it’s not his business and that I wouldn’t,” Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.
The brightly decorated tree in the Qubrsis’ living room sits at odds with the sombre mood. Their sisters Rani, 29, and Mai, 27, left Gaza in 2007 when the 30-year-old manager of Gaza’s Bible Society bookstore, where their husbands worked, was shot dead, having been accused by radical elements of proselytising. They now live in Bethlehem.
Well, with the merger with HAMAS, they should expect their days in Bethlehem to be numbered. As I’ve noted in previous years, the Palestinian Authority–ruled by Fatah–isn’t much more hospitable to Christians and the Christians live in fear there, too.
Tags: Bethlehem, Catholic, Christians, Christmas, Christmas Tree, Fatah, Fouad Twal, Gaza, GAZA CITY, Greek Orthodox, Hamas, Imad Jelda, Karam Qubrsi, Mai Qubrsi, Orthodox, Palestinian Authority, Peter Qubrsi, PLO, Rani Qubrsi