Written by Memri
November 12, 2008
In his column in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, 'Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar criticized the persecution of Christians in Arab countries, with a particular emphasis on the Christian population of the Palestinian Authority.(1)
Following are excerpts from the article:
"Today, this problem is also rampant in Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, and Palestine - and while the situation may be slightly different in Palestine, the trend is the same.
"Let us be honest with ourselves and courageously say out loud that Palestinian Christians are taking many severe blows, yet are suffering in silence so as not to attract attention. I do not refer here to the suffering caused by the occupation... but to actions of the past 20 years at least - that is, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 - involving the confiscation of Christian property, especially in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Birah.
"What makes things worse is that those who are plundering [the Christians'] property are either powerful [in their own right] or are backed by various elements, among them high-ranking military officials or influential members of large clans.
"Attempts by the political leadership to partially rectify this situation have failed. Nor has the judiciary system been able to [resolve] many of the problems, which we still face today. Over the past few years, several of my Christian friends have told me of the harm they have suffered, including various threats, even death threats, for trying to gain access to their lands after they were taken over by influential Bethlehem residents.
"Furthermore, there has been an attempt to marginalize Christian culture in Palestine, even though it is rich and deeply rooted [there]. This began with [accusations] of unbelief [against Christians] - a move that ultimately harmed Palestinian society as a whole...
"Despite all the injustices [against the Christians], no one has seen or heard of any constructive action to curb it and to [defend] the Christians' rights - whether by the elites, by any of the three branches (executive, legislative, and judiciary), by non-government organizations, or even by the political factions themselves. [Such action should have been forthcoming] not out of kindness and compassion, but [due to] regarding Palestinian Christians as indigenous to this land, and [therefore] no different from us, with the same rights and obligations [as Muslims].
"But the most fundamental problem here may be related to culture. We continue to instill a horrific culture in our children, one that sees Christians as infidels... and as 'the other.' We need an injection of humanistic and national awakening; we must raise an outcry and stand up to restore the Christians' rights, of which they have been deprived - [and we must do this] in order to preserve the demographic balance, which will safeguard the unity of our homeland and the justness the Palestinian cause.
"[Let us] remember that the tribes of Arabia were Christian. The best writers and poets were Christian, as were [many] warriors and philosophers... It is they who bore the banner of pan-Arabism. The first Palestinian university was established by Christians.
"Enough [examples]! It is not words that we need, but progressive attitudes, and the truth, so that it can be presented to tyrannical rulers, and so that clerics and old men will not be the only Christians left in the Holy Land and in the city of [Jesus'] birth."
(1) Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), October 25, 2008.
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