Christmas Under Hamas
Posted by musliminsuffer on December 28, 2007
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Christmas Under Hamas
Motasem Dalloul, IO Correspondent
“We feel absolute freedom under the rule of Hamas,” Musallam told IOL.
|December 27, 2007GAZA CITY —Celebrating their first Christmas under the full control of Hamas, Christians in the besieged Gaza Strip denied any discrimination or oppression from their Islamist rulers.“We feel absolute freedom under the rule of Hamas,” Monsignor Manuel Musallam, the head of Gaza’s Roman Catholic community, told IslamOnline.net on Wednesday, December 26.
“I have never received any complaint against them from Christians in Gaza at all.”
Some 3,000 Christians live among the 1.5 million population of the impoverished coastal strip, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
The majority of the community lives within Gaza City in proximity to the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Gaza Baptist churches.
“We have no problems because of Hamas,” said Attala, a Christian physician.
“We feel the brotherhood and religious tolerance here in Gaza.”
Simon Tarazi, a 28-year-old gold trader, insists he has never experienced any discrimination.
“I haven’t felt any kind of annoyance or aggression from Muslims at all. I have never heard an insult or a word of indignity.”
For Basem Ayyad, 43, life under Hamas is even better.
The Gaza salesman remembers when he resorted to Hamas authorities to help him retrieve money he had lend to someone.
“Hamas attorney general returned me my lost right.”
United in Sorrow
Christians in Gaza refused to make a big Christmas celebration this year not because of any Hamas oppression but rather as a show of solidarity with fellow Gazans.
“I can call Prime Minister Ismael Hanyya to take permission for a huge Christmas celebration and give orders to the Interior Minister to secure the necessary security protection, but we have decided not to,” Musallam said.
Standing outside his Gaza church to welcome the faithful for Christmas prayers, he cited the impact of non-stop Israeli aggressions on the festive spirit.
“Everyday there are martyrs, injuries and prisoners.
“In `Eid al-Adha, Muslims lost many martyrs and it was a day of sorrow. We can’t neglect their feelings,” said the priest.
“Their joys are our joys, their sorrows are our sorrows. We share the same crisis and we have the same destiny.”
Musallam recalled that Hamas Minister Dr Basem Na’eem was the first one to congratulate him and Gaza Christians on Christmas.
Ibraheem Ajab, who sells ornaments and accessories, said this year’s Christmas was joyless.
“I feel that there is no interest in Christmas this year as usual,” he said in a somber voice.
“I haven’t sold a lot of accessories.”
The UN Palestinian refugees Agency (UNRWA) says Israeli closures and Western economic boycott have left nearly one million Gazans living on handouts.
It warned that Gaza’s economy would collapse if its crossings continue to be closed by Israel.
Attala, the Christian physician, blamed Israel and the West-led economic sanctions for stealing Christmas spirit.
“How can we celebrate our Christmas at the time we can’t find medicine for patients in the Strip?” he told IOL while leaving the church.
“How can we celebrate Christmas at the time patients die because they aren’t permitted to leave to hospitals abroad!”
Nearly 50 Gaza patients have died since June because Israel prevented them from leaving the strip to seek treatment.
Attala lamented that Gaza Strip has turned into one big ghetto with all its houses, whether Muslim or Christian, filled with stories of pain and suffering.
“We have no problems in our life as Christians because of Hamas. The origin of every catastrophe in Gaza is the occupation.”
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