Christmas Clarity: Palestinian Christy Anastas on Islam and Sharia-Based Persecution of Christians in the Holy Land

“As Christmas approaches, and the usual Jew-hating calumnies against Israel, holding her responsible for the plight of Christians in the Holy Land, are leveled, Christy Anastas’ honest, uncompromised observations identifying the Sharia-based source of Christian persecution in Gaza, Judea-Samaria, and throughout the Muslim-dominated Middle East, must be reverberated widely.”

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Open Doors, founded during 1955 in response to the plight of Eastern European Christians under the yoke of Communist anti-religious fanaticism, is a non-profit organization working to document and counteract Christian persecution. Its yearly “catalogue” of global Christian oppression declares ruefully that 2014, “has seen more global persecution of Christians than any other year in recent history.”

Not surprisingly, given our era’s rampant, worldwide Islamic jihadism, nine out of the ten countries persecuting Christians most egregiously, are Islamic societies, where Sharia, Islamic law-based discrimination, is the source of what Open Doors euphemistically dubs “Islamic extremism.” Although, understandably, the horrific, jihad-sanctioned exploits of ISIS and Boko Haram targeting Christians—beheadings, eviscerations, torture, rape, and enslavement—have garnered the most attention, and condemnation, as the Open Doors reports make plain, chronic, grinding persecution of Christians in Muslim societies is a global phenomenon.

For example, Open Doors describes in rather anodyne terms these conditions for Christians in the very birthplace of Christianity, the Holy Land (i.e., Israel, and the disputed territories of Gaza, and Judea-Samaria), specifically, the areas under Palestinian Muslim rule, ranked 34th among the top 50 most persecuted Christian populations.

Leader: President Mahmoud Abbas; Government: Interim administration; Main Religion: Islam; Source of persecution: Islamic extremism—“Anti-Christian violence has increased, mostly caused by Islamic extremists, although Muslim-background believers face pressure from family, too. The authorities fail to uphold the rights of individual Christians, causing some to flee to safer areas. In Gaza, Christians are enticed into becoming Muslims, especially during Ramadan, with the offers of jobs, houses, wives and diplomas. Sometimes the approach is more violent. A Greek Orthodox monastery in Bethany, West Bank, was the repeated target of attacks…”

After more than thirteen centuries of almost uninterrupted jihad in historical Palestine, it is not surprising that a finalized constitution proposed for a Palestinian Arab state declared all aspects of Palestinian state law to be subservient to the Sharia, in harmony with the popular will (i.e., 79.9 percent of Palestinians want the PA to follow the Sharia—Islamic religious law— including 68.6 percent who wanted the Sharia as the exclusive code of law, according to data published by the Palestinian Center for Research and Cultural Dialogue, March 3, 2005). Moreover, contemporary Palestinian Authority religious intelligentsia openly support restoration of the oppressive system of dhimmitude within a Muslim-dominated Israel as well.

Eleven years ago (i.e., in 2003, prior to Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006), during a briefing for a visiting United States congressional delegation, then Vatican representative to Israel, the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi, informed US lawmakers that the Palestinian Authority’s new approved state constitution, funded by the US Agency for International Development, provided no juridical status for any religion other than Islam in the emerging Palestinian Arab entity. The Papal Nuncio warned, in addition, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had adopted Sharia as the overarching guiding principle of their legal code, thus mandating the absolute supremacy of Muslims over non-Muslims as a matter of law. (Archbishop Sambi also initiated a study of the new PA textbooks, which the Vatican deemed to be brazenly Antisemitic.)

The Hamas contingent at the municipal council of Bethlehem confirmed (as reported by Karby Legget in the December 23, 2005, edition of the Wall Street Journal, p. A1) the organizations plan to reinstitute the humiliating jizya, and such policies, even their threatened implementation, will likely exacerbate the ongoing Christian exodus from Arab-controlled Judea/Samaria, especially Bethlehem. An early April 2006 Reuters report indicated that one thousand Christians per year were leaving these areas due to Muslim depredations, including assaults on Christians, uprooting their olive trees, and scrawling graffiti that depicts nuns being raped. After Hamas issued a warning to the YMCA of Qalqilya to close its offices and leave town, as reported on April 21, 2006, a Qalqilya Christian leader lamented:

The face of the new Hamas government is coming to the forefront now that they finally took over and have a lot more confidence. They want to create a territory free of Christians and Jews.

This past April 8, 2014 speaking at Uppsala University, a remarkably intrepid 24 year-old Palestinian woman, Christy Anastas gave a forthright lecture (key extracts of the video are embedded below) “update” about the ongoing human rights abuses, of Christians in particular, engendered (predictably) by this Sharia-based system of “law” adopted by Fatah-Hamas, including:

  • The forced payment of the Koranic poll-tax (per verse 9:29), or jizya (i.e., from the etymology of the word, per Edward Lane, the great 19th century Arabic-English lexicographer, “the tax paid in lieu of being slain”). Anastas explains, “if you are a non-Muslim, a Jew or a Christian, you have to pay protection money” (to those she aptly terms, “mafia”)…”My uncle had to pay this protection money.” Her uncle stopped making his jizya payments, whereupon he was accused of being a “traitor,” imprisoned, and then executed, right in front of his own home.
  • The grotesque violations of women’s rights (Anastas proclaims, “women don’t have rights there [in Fatah-Hamas controlled areas];” “women are treated as possessions there”), resulting from application of the Sharia, including legally sanctioned polygamy and honor killings.
  • The sheer absence of freedom of speech—another hallmark of the Sharia: “Israel doesn’t threaten to kill us (Christians) for sharing our views, Palestinians do!”

Just over 3-months later, on July 14, 2014, Christy Anastas once again demonstrated her moral clarity and courage posting these comments in response to Hamas’ most recent round of jihadist missile barrages against Israel, and Israel’s retaliation.

…Under the Geneva Convention, firing missiles indiscriminately at civilian targets is a crime against humanity. They have not considered how Israel cares for her citizens by building a network of bomb shelters, reinforcing buildings and public structures and providing early warning systems for her people. In contrast, the leaders of Gaza, given so much aid by the West, appear to have spent much of it on building and preparing for war, rather than helping or protecting the people. Sadly, militants hide like cowards behind civilians, using public/civilian buildings as cover for launching rockets in order to draw Israeli fire. Women and children are called to be jihadists on rooftops and pay with their lives, defying the IDF’s warnings to evacuate. It breaks my heart to see the one called the enemy, work so hard to avoid collateral-civilian damage, whereas the other, my own people, think of them as a credible sacrifice for their cause.We Palestinians, whether Fatah, Hamas, Muslim or Christian, must accept responsibility for our actions and those among us who seek to perpetuate violence. We must recognize that violence only leads to more violence and must admit we are committing war crimes ourselves. The consequence of our actions is that we are reaping what we have sown. Israel’s military might, causing so much damage in Gaza, is a consequence, not a first strike reaction, to the provocation of those militants among us who for years have launched thousands of rockets onto Israel.…I challenge anyone to find a nation who would tolerate what Israel has had to from radicalized people who seek to destabilize the entire Middle-East. I call upon world leaders to force the Palestinian leadership to address this serious matter. I call on my people to accept responsibility for their actions and restrain those among us who chose violence over diplomacy. Instead of constantly looking at the speck in Israel’s eye, we must remove the plank from our own. If we truly want change, and care for our children who are dying as innocent victims in this conflict, we must be the change we want to see.

As Christmas approaches, and the usual Jew-hating calumnies against Israel, holding her responsible for the plight of Christians in the Holy Land, are leveled, Christy Anastas’ honest, uncompromised observations identifying the Sharia-based source of Christian persecution in Gaza, Judea-Samaria, and throughout the Muslim-dominated Middle East, must be reverberated widely.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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