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Jul 17, 2012 12:40
Category: Religious News

Gaza - Christians

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Dozens of Christians in Gaza have staged a rare public protest, claiming that two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and held against their will.

The small but noisy demonstration showed the increasingly desperate situation facing the tiny Christian minority.

Protesters banged on a church bell and chanted, "With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus."

Gaza police say the two congregants are staying with a Muslim religious official at their request, because they fear retribution from their families over converting to Islam. Two mediators said the two — a 25-year-old man and a woman with three children — appeared to have embraced Islam of their free will. Forced conversions have been unheard of in Gaza before.

Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled, but have mostly kept silent.

There are growing fears among Gaza Christians that their shrinking community could disappear through emigration and conversions.