Commentators may disagree over whether religious liberty is under siege in America today (we recommend Peter Berger on this subject), but we can all agree—from Via Meadia to The New Republic—that religious intolerance and persecution are rife in the Middle East. The outlook is bleak whether you are a Jew in Yemen, a Christian in Iraq, a Shi’ite in Pakistan or a Bahai in Iran.The Associated Press reports on the latest brutal assault on religious freedom, this one from Gaza:
Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest Monday, claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will. . . .Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled, but have mostly kept silent.There are growing fears among Gaza Christians that their rapidly shrinking community could disappear through emigration and conversions.Their numbers appear to have shrunk from some 3,500 to about 1,500 in recent years, according to community estimates. They are a tiny minority among 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, most conservative Muslims.
The inevitable outcome of such repression is spelled out by one of Gaza’s remaining Christians:
“If things remain like this, there’ll be no Christians left in Gaza,” said Huda Al-Amash, mother of one of the converts, Ramez, 25. She sat sobbing in a church hallway alongside her daughters, Ranin and Rinad, and a dozen other women. “Today it’s Ramez. Then who, and who will be next?”
Via Meadia, as ever, hopes for the day when people around the world are free to openly practice their beliefs (or live without belief if that is what they choose) without facing persecution and pressure from either secular or religious bigots.In the meantime, we are waiting for the BDS movement to urge international divestment from Gaza until the Hamas government stops turning non-Muslims into second class citizens. We suspect that we will have a long time to wait; there are a lot of people in this world who only get upset at injustices committed by Christians and Jews.