Bethlehem: The city of Mohamed?

Friday, December 23, 2005 | 
BETHLEHEM – It’s the Christmas season, but instead of decorations, tourists and holiday cheer in the city of Jesus’ birth, the city is rife with reported harassment of Christians and even threats by Islamic militants to ruin the holiday.

Christians feel increasingly estranged from their own turf with the increasing Moslem population squeezing out the diminishing Christian minority.

“Bethlehem is the symbol of the Christian people, therefore it is being targeted,” said Roni Shaked, an Israeli expert on Arab affairs. “Bethlehem has become the city of Mohammed.”

Bethlehem’s Christian population has dwindled to 26 percent of the population (about 20,000 of the city’s 130,000 residents), a drastic drop from 60 percent in 1967. In the rest of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the percentage is even lower: Christians comprise about 1.7 percent of the total population.

Basically, the Christians are suffering, or they are leaving. –NJ-

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