Prepare for Islamic rule, Gaza militants warn
An Islamic militant leader has warned that Gaza's Christians must expect that Hamas rule means "real changes" and to be "ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace".
Israel Today reports that Gaza-based Muslim groups affiliated with Hamas and possibly Al Qaeda have warned local Christians that Hamas' military conquest of the volatile coastal strip means they must now fully submit to Islamic ritual law.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Sheikh Abu Saqer, leader of the group Jihadia Salafiya, said that Gaza's Muslims "expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza".
"Missionary activity" will no longer be tolerated, and those suspected of trying to covert local Muslims to Christianity will be "harshly punished", said Abu Saqer.
Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is now prohibited in Gaza, and all women must fully cover themselves in public.
In order to ensure compliance with these regulations, Abu Saqer announced the formation of a new "military wing" that will a close eye on the subjects of "Hamastan".
Following last week's unprovoked assault on a Catholic church and school in Gaza City, most are unconvinced that even full submission to Gaza's new conservative Muslim overlords will afford any degree of peace and security to the area's tiny Christian population.
Meanwhile, AsiaNews adds that Gaza priest Fr Manuel Musallam has called for prayer for Palestinians in Gaza.
"Please, pray for us!" he says. "We have had it with war, murderers and occupation, with the humiliation of the people!"
Referring to the the ransacking and looting of the Convent of the Sisters of the Rosary, Fr Musallam says that "the people who did this barbaric act are trying to get us Christians involved in the struggle between Hamas and Fatah, but we are not scared of them."
But according to AsiaNews Fr Musallam is reluctant to talk about persecution.
"Our relations with the Muslims are not only good, they are excellent," Fr Musallam says.
"I don't think what happened came from a direct order from Hamas or Fatah. In the past when the Church had difficulties, they came to our defence - for example, when there were demonstrations against the Muhammad cartoons or after the Pope's speech in Regensburg."
As proof he said that "just this morning at least a hundred people, both Christian and Muslim, came to see me. Even Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas phoned me from Ramallah to express friendship and his strong condemnation."
Gaza Christians warned to submit to Islam (Israel Today, 19/6/07)
Gaza priest slams barbaric attack against Sisters of the Rosary (AsiaNews, 19/6/07)
Gaza Christians anxious but resolute over Hamas (Middle East Times, 19/6/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Gaza convent, school looted and burned (CathNews, 19/6/07)
Caritas hospital in Gaza forced to close (CathNews, 13/6/07)
Gaza sick dying for lack of urgent medical access (CathNews, 20/3/07)
Gaza strip a "large prison": Irish bishops (CathNews, 28/2/07)
Gaza getting worse, say residents (CathNews, 7/12/06)
New Gaza settlement tenders concern Caritas Jerusalem (CathNews, 8/9/06)
Biblical lamentations as Gaza descends into disaster (CathNews, 12/7/06)
20 Jun 2007