08/22/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Molotov cocktail against Christian activist's home in Bethlehem

Samir Qumsieh, owner and director of the only private Christian Tv in Palestine, is the victim. For some time now, he has been receiving threats and has been the object of intimidation. Yet his appeals to the authorities have fallen on deaf ears.

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – Death threats are getting nastier for Samir Qumsieh. He is the director and owner of the only private Christian TV station in Palestine. Concerned about his family and his business, he has repeatedly called on the authorities to intervene to the little avail.

In 1996 Mr Qumsieh founded Al-Mahed (the Nativity) TV in Bethlehem. He told AsiaNews that he is forced to live with the constant threats against his life and might have to shut down his TV station, which has been well-receivfed by Christian leaders in the Holy Land. In the past, Mr Qumsieh denounced several times the violence inflicted on Christians in the Holy Land.

A few days ago he called on Bethlehem governor, Salah Al-Ta'mari, to investigate a serious incident. After midnight last Thursday unidentified people threw cocktail Molotov into the garden of his house.

"We avoided the worst by a miracle. One of the bottles fell on wet grass causing little damage; the other did not explode," he said. Never the less, the incident is but the latest in a long string of similar episodes.

Qumsieh said that "in the past defamatory and indimidatory leaflets about him were circulated". But what is worse is that "despite my pleas that something be done to find those responsible for these acts, the security forces have done nothing."

In his letter to the governor, copies of which were also sent to the chiefs of local security forces and to Christian leaders, the TV station owner complained that the threats against him are "a serious and dangerous development that must be taken seriously".

Mr Qumsieh also faces an economic threat. Poor revenues might force him to shut down his TV station. And this is already wetting the appetite of Born-Again evangelical Christians and Hamas who seem interested in buying Al-Mahed.

Financing is not a new problem though, but in the past Mr Qumsieh had already said "that closing up would be the hardest thing to do. It is something that touches the entire community. If it goes down, there won't be another like it."

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