Sunday, September 24, 2006
The disgrace of attacking churches in Palestine
What interest do Muslims, especially in Palestine, have in firebombing churches in the West Bank ? And what message of civility, good –will and national unity do the perpetrators of these hideous acts want to communicate to the Palestinian people and the outside world by attacking and threatening to fire-bomb peaceful churches in Gaza, Nablus, Jenin and Tubas?
Aren’t we supposed to be the protectors of these churches? These are our own Palestinian churches, after all, and targeting them with fire-bombs is a cardinal criminal act of unparalleled stupidity.
It may be a little assuring that no one has been injured in these suspicious incidents, as they have been described by Palestinian political and religious officials. However, must we wait until somebody gets injured or, God forbid, killed, to do what should be done to eradicate this disgraceful behavior from our midst?
Yes, of course, we are all legitimately angry at and upset by the injurious remarks made recently by the Pope of the Vatican. But is attacking Palestinian churches in Nablus and Tubas, some dating back to the nineteenth century, the right way to express our anger and vent our indignation? Are Palestinian Christians and their churches mere escape goats or hostages to be attacked and targeted whenever a crisis between Islam and the West arises? Shame on us if we ever allowed ourselves to think this way.
Yes, these criminal incidents were minor in their scope and even negligible in the physical harm they have inflicted. But the moral damage they have caused is undoubtedly incalculable.
Needless to say, these attacks are not only morally wrong, they are also Islamically unlawful and politically very disastrous.
Morally, because these are peaceful places of worship and should in no way be involved in the controversy over the Pope’s remarks. From the Islamic view point, the attacks are plainly Haram according to the laws of the Sharia. Didn’t our Prophet Muhammed (S) say “Man Atha Thimmiyan Faqad Athaani” (who ever harms (a non-Muslim citizen living in Muslim land) also harms me”?
It is heartening that there has been not a single Palestinian leader or activist who publicly or privately has voiced or signaled any modicum of support for these strange acts. In fact, every Palestinian leader and activist from Hamas, Fatah and other factions have publicly condemned the thuggish behavior in the strongest terms.
The Mufti of Palestine, the Sharia Judge and the Sheikhs of al-Masjidul Aqsa as well as all Palestinian political leaders have all condemned these acts and the perpetrators.
Politically, the attacks, which enjoyed ample coverage especially by the Israeli media and pro-Israeli western news agencies, such as the Associated Press, have been a great public relations disaster for the Palestinian people and their cause.
They portrayed us as a thuggish and gangsterly people who can’t control their own impulses and who would embark on the stupidest act of self-destruction just for the sake of it.
Undoubtedly, those who did these acts have given Israel and its opportunistic hasbara apparatus free propaganda munitions for many years to come to demonize us as a people and vilify our struggle against this Nazi-like Israeli occupation whose bombs and missiles make no distinction between churches and mosques just as its bullets don’t distinguish between Muslims and Christians.
In addition, the perpetrators have dealt Palestinian national unity a huge blow by giving the impression that Christians and their churches in the Holy Land, which actually preceded Islam by hundreds of years, are no longer safe, not because of the criminal Israeli occupation, which is the real reason, but rather because of the thuggish behavior of certain elements within our society.
Israel and its shipyard propaganda dogs will now tell the west that Christians are leaving because of Muslim intimidation and terror, and will try to reap the greatest possible political and propaganda benefit from this sorry affair, all because of the criminal and stupid behavior of whoever stood behind these attacks.
Fortunately, our local Christian leaders, religious and civic, have behaved in an exemplary manner by making sure that these actions won’t undermine Palestinian national unity. And with their Muslim colleagues, they have succeeded in containing any possible aftereffects of this disgrace.
Unfortunately, we live in a country tormented and raped by the Israeli military occupation, which means that lawlessness and chaos are nearly always the “master of the situation”.
Under such conditions, it is really difficult to identify the criminal elements that carried out and stood behind the attacks, carried out under the cover of darkness.
And what makes things really suspicious is the fact that no suspects have been arrested in connection of what happened.
This really could be an indication that Israeli agents, and there are thousands of them, may have been responsible for most if not all of the attacks and attempted attacks on the churches.
The propensity to blame Shin Bet agents is plausible because Israel stands to benefit, from the view point of political expediency, from such incidents which corrode Palestinian national unity and seriously harm the image of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence..
We hope and pray that the perpetrators and those standing behind them will be identified and apprehended very soon. The early arrest and prosecution of the evil-doers will renew our confidence in ourselves and dissipate doubts about our moral fabric and national unity.