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Gaza: Internal Hamas government memo calls for ‘activities to reduce interaction with Christmas’

Once again, anger and fear resurface among Christians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, who also are preparing to celebrate Christmas amidst the restrictions due to the Covid19 pandemic.

However, their concerns are not because of the spread of coronavirus, but rather because of a letter (which was made public on social media and other Palestinian websites) that was sent to the government of Hamas in Gaza regarding the upcoming celebrations of Christmas.

The letter, entitled “Activities to reduce interaction with Christmas during the next two weeks,” was sent by the Director-General of the General Administration of Preaching and Counseling of the Palestinian Endowment Ministry in Gaza.

In what appeared to be an official correspondence between Palestinian officials, the letter discussed the steps taken during “an emergency meeting” that was held in Gaza on December 15. It included the issuance of “awareness and guidance” that needed to be implemented by 10 departments within the Islamic Waqf ministry.

The main goal behind this campaign would include “issuing fatwas [to prohibit Muslims from participating in Christmas], releasing videos, and requesting some preachers” to talk about the great sins of celebrating their holidays with the Christians.

It is worth noting that the number of Christians still living in Gaza may not reach 1000, while the Orthodox and Catholic churches continue to provide parish services to the remaining families, in addition to two schools whose students are mostly Muslims.

After Hamas gained full control of the Strip, the Baptist Church in Gaza, which had operated since 1950, was soon almost shattered. In October 2007, Rami Ayyad, one of its active members in Gaza, who managed its Christian bookstore there, was kidnapped, tortured, and then killed.

After Ayyad’s assassination, seven church leaders left for the West Bank, while Hanna Massad, the church’s pastor, moved to Jordan with his family.

Since Hamas installed Shari’ah law in Gaza, which fomented further threats against the remaining Christians from Islamic extremists, Christians in general feared gathering in groups. They no longer wear crosses, while women dare not move around freely by themselves or be unveiled.

Hamas has always prohibited the Christians from holding public celebrations during Christmas and New Year, ever since its usurpation of power in 2007. This time, it intends to socially isolate them as well.

In the West Bank, the situation of the Christians may seem relatively better, but the fear of Islamic jihad remains a ghost haunting them.

The number of Christians in Bethlehem, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, is rapidly dwindling. Christians today make up merely 15% of what was once known as a Christian-majority town. The violent military actions taken by Fatah militants wreaked havoc on the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ after the outbreak of the so-called Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

Palestinian Christians singing Christmas carol near the Church of the Nativity

A few years ago, a visa clerk at the US consulate disclosed to this writer that Palestinian Christians who met the US tourist visa requirements often decided to overstay their visit to the United States, and eventually applied for political asylum because of fear of growing Islamic jihad activity within the Palestinian society. Those applicants share with the USCIS in secrecy their valid stories of persecution at the hands of “their Muslim brethren.”

On the other side of the country, Christians inside Israel tell a completely different story. They increasingly are incorporated in all walks of life, and their numbers are growing. It is worth noting that their academic achievements rival those of the majority Jewish population.

The head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association recently posted on his Facebook page an appeal to the Likud, the main party of the current Israeli government. “We call upon the Likud party which is the [ Israeli] government to open up for appointing Christians and to work on integrating our Christian community and our youth into the state of Israel. This is the responsibility of the members of the Likud party today.”

The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, recited by Shadi Khaloul, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association

In Jordan, where Christians have lived so far in peace and safety and enjoyed opportunities that secured them access to both the public and the private sectors, the picture has begun to change.

Yesterday, The Students’ Union of the College of Sharia at the University of Jordan issued a statement expressing its refusal to erect a Christmas tree and light inside the university courtyard. It added that what the university did is a matter that does not appease God in a country whose religion is Islam.

Muslims, in general, are living in a crisis because the image of Islam has worldwide been shaken. I am not surprised that they seek to defuse their anger in the remaining Christian minorities.” George Abu Kova, a Palestinian Christian who lives in the United States commented on Facebook in reply to Hamas’s letter against Christmas.

Samir Qumsiyeh, a former advisor to the Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs in Jerusalem, expressed his dismay and anger to the letter in a post on Facebook, saying, “Hamas’s positions are well known. Have you forgotten that Ismail Haniyeh [Hamas Prime Minister] congratulated Erdogan for turning the Hagia Sophia Church into a mosque and thus ignored the feelings of Christians in general and the Christian Palestinians in particular? Then you hear from them that we are one people within all its components.” Unfortunately, our reality is painful and we have no future.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Nigeria’s president: Trump “looked at me in the face. He said ‘why are you killing Christians?’”

Nigeria ranks 12th in the Open Doors USA World Watch List of the worst countries for Christian persecution. Fulani jihadists and the Boko Haram jihad group brutalize and slaughter Christians on a routine basis.

For some odd reason, Buhari — himself a Fulani and a Muslim — decided to be honest about what transpired between him and Trump.

“I was in his office, only myself and himself. Only God is my witness. He looked at me in the face. He said ‘Why are you killing Christians?‘”

Buhari explained: “I tried and explained to him this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing which the respective leadership was failing the nation.”

This is disingenuous. Nigeria has been termed the “biggest killing ground of Christians in the world.” Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Argak Kwashi of Jos said: “This thing is systematic. It is planned; it is calculated…. their intention is to Islamize Nigeria.”

Although Buhari openly condemns Boko Haram and Fulani jihadist attacks on Christians, he has done little to stop them.

In February, the Trump Administration launched the first-ever International Religious Freedom Alliance, which 26 countries joined: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, The Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Let’s hope more practical efforts are made to help Christians who are suffering persecution in Nigeria and elsewhere. Western countries need to be stop aid to countries that aid and abet persecution against Christians and other religious minorities.

“Buhari: Trump Accused Me of Killing Christians in Nigeria,” by Omololu Ogunmade, This Day, September 8, 2020:

For the first time since he met the United States President Donald Trump in Washington in April 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed Monday that Trump unequivocally accused him of killing Christians in Nigeria.

However, he said he defended himself, telling Trump that the conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria was caused by cultural matters and not dictated by ethnic or religious factors.

Buhari, who said he was put on the spot by Trump when he was alone with him, alleging that he (Buhari) was slaughtering Christians in Nigeria, added that the question startled him but he put his emotion under control.

The president, who made the disclosure when he deviated from his closing speech at the end of a two-day ministerial retreat in the Presidential Villa, said he was the only African leader from less developed countries that was invited by Trump at the time.

He asked his cabinet members how they would feel if they were the ones put on the spot and confronted with such a grave allegation, disclosing that he further told Trump that the conflicts were caused by successive leaders of the country who tampered with established grazing routes.

According to him, only Nigerian leaders in the First Republic kept grazing routes while subsequent ones encroached on them, adding that the crisis was older than him and much more than Trump whom he said he was still older than.

“I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited, and when I was in his office, only myself and himself. Only God is my witness. He looked at me in the face. He said ‘why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder if you were the person how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion. So, I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and stagnant farmers I know is older than me, not to talk of him (Trump). I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any route to your water point, they will follow it, it doesn’t matter whose farm it was.

“The first republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the minister of agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle routes where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) they encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing which the respective leadership was failing the nation,” he said….

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.