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Reprinted from andrewbostom.org.
Fulfilling Caliph Umar’s “Vision”?
A report today (7/17/12) in Haaretz highlights the ongoing plight of Gaza’s tiny, fragile Christian minority. Their miniscule numbers have shrunk from a mere 3,500 to about 1,500 since Hamas seized control in 2006, dispersed among 1.7 million Gazan Palestinians, overwhelmingly traditionalist, Hamas-supporting Muslims.
Briefly ignoring their dangerous vulnerability, as they verge on extinction, Gaza’s beleaguered Christian minority has brought their latest predicament—forced conversions, the recrudescence of a millennial Islamic scourge upon the region’s pre-Islamic, indigenous Christians—to public attention.
Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest Monday, claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will. The small but noisy demonstration showed the increasingly desperate situation facing the tiny minority. Protesters banged on a church bell and chanted, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”
Indeed the current plight of Gaza’s Christians reflects a continuum of destruction, persecution, and attrition of Middle Eastern Christianity—the legacy of Islam’s jihad—that dates back to the reign of the second “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar (r. 634-644 A.D.). Not only did Umar wage devastating, sanguinary campaigns of jihad conquest, he also imposed limitations upon the surviving, vanquished Christians aimed at their ultimate destruction by attrition. The Arab historian al-Baladhuri indicates that Umar deported Christians who refused to apostasize and embrace Islam, and that he obeyed the order of Islam’s prophet Muhammad who advised: “there shall not remain two religions in the land of Arabia.”During Umar’s caliphate neither cities nor monasteries were spared if they resisted Islamic goals. Thus when the Greek garrison of Gaza refused to submit and convert to Islam, all were put to death.
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