Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
Christians in the Gaza Strip staged a sit-in protest on Monday against the abduction of a young man who his family says was being forced to convert to Islam by an armed group, Ma’an’s correspondent said.
Dozens of Christians protested in the Orthodox church in Gaza City, claiming that a Christian man and two girls had been kidnapped.
Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios said a young man, Ramiz al-Amash, was kidnapped by an Islamist group on Saturday after attempts to force him to convert from Christianity to Islam.
He was prevented from calling his family.
“The young man’s parents went to the police to lodge a complaint about the kidnapping of their son, but it did nothing,” Archbishop Alexios said.
Al-Amash’s mother became sick and had to be taken to hospital. The family managed to contact the kidnappers and they took Ramiz to see her surrounded by three jeeps filled with gunmen. They then took him away again to an unknown location.
He is most likely being held in al-Bureij or al-Maghazi refugee camp, Archbishop Alexios said.
“There are some groups trying to persuade young Christians to convert to Islam. They abduct them away from their parents and their families, they threaten them,” he said.
Hamas government spokesman Ayman Batniji said there had been no kidnappings in Gaza, adding that police in the coastal enclave have the utmost respect for Christians.
Archbishop Alexios called on officials to intervene to stop abductions, stressing that there has been a good relationship between Muslims and Christians over the past years.
Meanwhile, West Bank Archbishop Atalla Hana called for certain groups in Gaza to stop provoking discord and treating Christians as not as patriotic as Muslim Palestinians.
He urged the Gaza government to take serious action so Christians will not be vulnerable to such attempts.
There are around 3,000 Christians in the Gaza Strip, in a population of 1.6 million people.
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said last year that Muslims and Christians in Gaza have “one goal and a common destiny.”