Hamas pressing Gaza Christians to become Muslims

Sunday, August 12, 2007 |  by Staff Writer  

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip are pressuring local Christians to either become Muslims or leave the area, according to Palestinian officials who spoke to Middle East Newsline.

The charge comes less than a week after reports revealed that Gaza's top female academic had been abducted and forced to convert and marry a Muslim man.

Sana Al Sayegh, who was born a Christian, remains the dean of the Science and Technology Faculty at Palestine University in Gaza City. Her Hamas-affiliated university colleagues were reportedly behind her abduction and forced conversion.

In a further sign of Hamas' intent to create an Islamic state in Gaza, the group has offered to reduce prison sentences by one year for any inmates who grow a beard in compliance with Islamic law and memorize at least five chapters of the Koran.

A mere 2,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip amid a Muslim population of 1.5 million. When Hamas seized control of the area in June, one of the group's leaders warned that local Christians would have to submit to strict Islamic law.

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