The fact remains that as an extremist Islamic terrorist group, Hamas prevents expressions of both Christmas and Christianity in Gaza:
Of the 1.5 million Palestinians now living in the Gaza Strip, fewer than 1,400 are Christian and those who can are leaving. The church hopes reconciliation will bring them back.That is the bottom line--when it comes to the expression of religions other than Islam in Gaza, Hamas is not much different than Saudi Arabia.
There hasn't been a Christmas tree in Gaza City's main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday.
Imad Jelda is an Orthodox Christian who runs a youth training centre in Gaza City. With unemployment hovering at 23%, he has seen young Christian men leave to study and work abroad in their droves. "People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous," Jelda said. "The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves."
Karam Qubrsi, 23, and his younger brother Peter, 21, are the eldest sons in one of Gaza's 55 remaining Catholic families. Both wear prominent wooden crucifixes. "Jesus tells me, 'if you can't carry my cross, you don't belong to me,'" Peter explained. It's a demonstration of faith that has caused him some trouble.
He describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. "I told him it's not his business and that I wouldn't," Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.
You won't find Christmas being celebrated publicly in Saudi Arabia--and yesterday, you did not find it celebrated in Gaza either.
Technorati Tag: Christmas and Gaza and Hamas.