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Palestinian Christians fear future as an Islamic state

While getting ready for Christmas with a little bit more hope than years past, Palestinian Christians have an increasing fear that "Palestine might become an Islamic state", according to the Rome-based AsiaNews agency.

The agency quote nuns of Bethlehem's Baby Caritas Hospital, the town's paediatric hospital, who say that "Palestinian Christians have no illusions as to the new political situation. They fear instead that they will be let down once again".

"Those who can, emigrate as quickly as possible. If they regret their move, they realise that going back has become impossible. Christians fear they are becoming a shrinking minority, overwhelmed by Muslims who are having more children".

The nuns denounce "Islamic extremism which has spread here in recent times, especially in the villages of the Judean desert. This makes life for Christians very difficult".

Recently, Muslim staff members at the Christian hospital (founded by a Swiss Catholic priest) wrote a letter to the Board of Directors asking that female Muslim nurses wear a veil at work. "It is a request they make from time to time, but the hospital refuses not only for reasons of hygiene but also to preserve its Christian character," the nuns say.

Expressing some optimism, the Bethlehem nuns told AsiaNews thas "this year pilgrims are back, above all from Italy. We have had at least a hundred groups, many led by their bishops, who in coming are encouraging others to visit the Holy Land"

Palestinian Christians fear their country might become an Islamic state ( 7/12/04)

For love of the land (The Table 13/11/04)
Palestinian carving custom follows exodus of Christian population (Catholic News Service 26/5/04)
Palestinian Christians face ethnic cleansing (National Catholic reporter 22/11/02)
After the darkness, dawn (Sojourners Sep-Oct 02)

Caritas expresses solidarity with Palestinian people (CathNews 3/12/04)
Papal sympathy to Palestinians on Arafat death (CathNews 12/11/04)
Palestinian Christians barred from Easter pilgrimage (CathNews 13/4/04)
Palestinian Catholics worried about possible removal of Arafat (CathNews 26/9/02)

Palestinian Christians fear creation of Islamic state (Catholic World News 7/12/04)

8 Dec 2004