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Christians Persecuted in the Holy Land

By Chris Mitchell
For the full story, go to CBN’s CWNews

Two thousand years after the birth of Christ, Christians are leaving the Holy Land in record numbers. Now, a new report suggests persecution against Palestinian Christian believers is getting worse.

Charred ruins are all that remain of 14 homes set a blaze in the West Bank village of Taybeh . An angry Muslim mob, from a neighboring village, attacked the Christian town last September. They said they were avenging the dishonor of a Muslim woman allegedly impregnated by her Christian employer from Taybeh.

Taybeh is the only West Bank village completely inhabited by Christians, about 2,000 of them. Originally, it was called Ephraim in the Old Testament; and in the book of John it is mentioned as a village where Jesus stayed.

David Khoury is the Mayor of Taybeh. He says the attack would not have occurred if Taybeh were a Muslim village instead of a Christian one.

Palestinian officials are downplaying what happened here—depicting it as a dispute between families—the result of an out-of-wedlock romance. But some villagers insist the incident was “pure religious hatred”—that Taybeh Christians were used as scapegoats. Some of the 400 attackers were reportedly heard shouting “Allahu akbar—‘Allah is great’”—as they threw molotov cocktails at Christian houses.

We’ve hidden the identity of a West Bank evangelist for his protection. We’ll call him Nadeem. He suggests Palestinian authorities are covering up a larger problem: a rising tide of Muslim intolerance and violence directed against the Christian minority.

Last February, hundreds of Druze Muslims attacked Palestinian Christians in the northern Israeli village of Mughar . Rioters damaged 125 homes and businesses after a Druze teenager spread the false rumor that Christians had posted pornographic images of Druze women on the internet.

International Human Rights attorney Justus Weiner has researched the plight of Palestinian Christians for more than eight years. His findings were recently published by the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs.

Weiner warned, “Palestinian Christians are in very dire straights…”

He also says Palestinian Christians are now living in fear because persecution against them is increasing.

Weiner added, “I think the situation has been on a steep downhill for at least 12 years—since Israel withdrew from the Palestinian populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza . The Christians fear for their own lives, they fear for their own family, they fear for the future of their community.”

While the draft constitution pledges to guarantee freedom of worship: Islam is stated as the official religion of Palestine .
Shariah law is stated as the primary source of legislation. Under shariah law, any Muslim who leaves Islam and converts to another faith must be killed.

So it was for Ahmad El-Achwal, former owner of a falafel stand. The father of eight, he converted to Christianity and held regular Bible studies in his home.

But, he suffered repeated arrests and torture at the hands of Palestinian authority police.

Human Rights attorney Weiner met and interviewed Achwal prior to his death in January, 2004.

Weiner attested, “He showed me, at the time, the results of his—what were then—recent arrests, which included burns all over his body. Where hot pieces of sheet metal were taken from a fire and touched to his skin. And, on January 21st, 2004, someone knocked on the door- he opened the door and he was met with a hail of bullets. And he was shot dead in the entrance to his apartment.”

Hannan verified, “A lot of families—they are leaving because they can’t do anything about what is going on. They can’t take it; they can’t handle it.”

Half of Hannan’s family left the West Bank she said, because of persecution against them.