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» 12/07/2004
PALESTINE
Palestinian Christians fear their country might become an Islamic state

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – In Bethlehem, people are getting ready for Christmas with a little bit more hope than years past, expecting pilgrims to come in greater numbers. Yet Palestinian Christians are also "afraid that Palestine might become an Islamic state", this according to the nuns of Bethlehem's Baby Caritas Hospital, the town's paediatric hospital, who spoke to AsiaNews.

The nuns—who have been operating in Christ's birthplace for 30 years—said that "Palestinian Christians have no illusions as to the new political situation. They fear instead that they will be let down once again".

"Those who can, emigrate as quickly as possible. If they regret their move, they realise that going back has become impossible. Christians fear they are becoming a shrinking minority, overwhelmed by Muslims who are having more children".

The nuns denounce "Islamic extremism which has spread here in recent times, especially in the villages of the Judean desert. This makes life for Christians very difficult".

Recently, Muslim staff members at the Christian hospital (founded by a Swiss Catholic priest) wrote a letter to the Board of Directors asking that female Muslim nurses wear a veil at work. "It is a request they make from time to time, but the hospital refuses not only for reasons of hygiene but also to preserve its Christian character," the nuns say.

These days there are some signs of hope in the territories though. At the check-point that leads to Israel, more permits have been released for those seeking work in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel.

Bethlehem's Catholic community is getting ready for Christmas, especially for the novena that starts on December 15. There will be mass at 4:30 pm in the Basilica of the Nativity and a priest will express some reflections. Traditionally, Catholics participate in great numbers at this activity and in last few years the church has always been full.

Pilgrims are also expected to come in greater numbers this year, especially after the Israeli and Palestinian tourism ministers signed a deal guaranteeing greater security in the Holy Places. Religious tourism has traditionally been the backbone of the local economy.

The nuns of Bethlehem stress that "this year pilgrims are back, above all from Italy. We have had at least a hundred groups, many led by their bishops, who in coming are encouraging others to visit the Holy Land". (LF)


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See also
11/24/2004 JORDAN - PALESTINE - ISRAEL
The international community must do something for the Holy Places
11/20/2004 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
We shall stop those who engage in violence in order to hold peaceful elections, Abu Mazen says
11/15/2004 PALESTINE
Civil war looms over Palestine after Arafat's death
01/10/2005 PALESTINE – ISRAEL – HOLY LAND
Abbas's win, an invitation and challenge to Israel
by Arieh Cohen
11/11/2004 palestine
After Arafat, an opportunity for non-violence
JORDAN - CHRISTMAS
A Christmas of lights and contrasts
PAKISTAN – CHRISTMAS
Christmas, a holiday that brings Christians and Muslims closer together
VATICAN
Let violence end, everywhere peace is needed, says the Pope
VATICAN
The bread of life was born tonight, says the Pope
HONG KONG - CHINA
Christmas fosters hope burdened by politicians' 'decadence', says Bishop Zen
SRI LANKA
Yes, to peace and justice; no to death penalty, says Colombo bishop
MALAYSIA
Jesus back in Christmas carols
ISRAEL – PALESTINE – VATICAN
Christmas, peace in the Holy Land, peace on earth
BANGLADESH
Christmas in the orphanage or how the joy of the season meets hope for the future
UZBEKISTAN
Christmas in Tashkent after the wounds of Soviet atheism
THAILAND
Buddhists and other non Christians will attend Christmas mass
PHILIPPINES
The essence of Christmas is God made flesh, says Archbishop Cruz
PHILIPPINES
Pre-dawn mass to celebrate the coming of Christ
INDIA
Gujarat Christians want a Christmas without violence
PAKISTAN
Christmas in an Islamic country: festivities, traditions and solidarity
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Days that seem to announce peace, says Patriarch Michael Sabbah
IRAQ
We shall celebrate Christmas even amidst all the violence, Chaldean Patriarch says
SRI LANKA
Catholic church set on fire near Colombo
VATICAN
May the Christmas tree teach us to give ourselves, says the Pope
ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Uncertainty on Christmas Eve for the peoples and governments of Israel and Palestine
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Israeli Christians to visit Bethlehem this Christmas
SOUTH KOREA
Christmas trees in a Buddhist temple to honour Jesus' birth
THAILAND
Christmas concert by Thai prisoners' band
CHINA
No more tickets to pay for midnight mass
INDONESIA
Indonesia orders security clamp down after terror warning
PALESTINE
Somber Christmas in Bethlehem after Arafat's death
MALAYSIA
Christmas without Jesus in Malaysia
China - vatican
Christmas Midnight Mass for a fee at the Beijing Cathedral
INDONESIA
Tight security ahead of Christmas season
VATICAN
The crèche is a sign of culture and faith, Pope says
IRAQ
Bearing witness to Christ at the peril of one's life, says Father Ragheed in Mosul
PALESTINE
Between old fears and new hopes, celebrating Advent in Bethlehem

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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