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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
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A Christmas of lights and contrasts
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Let violence end, everywhere peace is needed, says the Pope
VATICAN
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Christmas fosters hope burdened by politicians' 'decadence', says Bishop Zen
SRI LANKA
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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
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SRI LANKA
Catholic church set on fire near Colombo
VATICAN
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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

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Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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