Thursday, January 17, 2008

Christians leaving Gaza for West Bank

Published: Jan. 15, 2008 at 3:24 PM

GAZA, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Christians appear to be leaving Gaza, mostly for the West Bank, fearful of attacks by radical Muslims following the Hamas takeover.

At the Baptist Church in Gaza, only eight people attended service on a recent Sunday morning, The Washington Times reports. Six months ago, attendance was around 100.

The congregation's pastor, Hanna Massad, left for the West Bank after a prominent member, Rami Eyad, was killed in October in a bombing of his religious bookstore.

The Christian community in Gaza was small and is now believed to number about 3,000. Most are Greek Orthodox, with a few hundred Catholics and a handful of Baptists.

Most Christians do not blame Hamas for attacks but say that the coup in Gaza has encouraged more radical groups.

Father Artymos is priest at the 16-century St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church. He said Christians and Muslims have been able to live in peace as neighbors -- although Christian groups are banned from converting Muslims.


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