Gunmen from Islamic Jihad and Fatah announced their intention yesterday of attacking churches in Gaza in protest against the cartoons of Muhammad published in Denmark last September. But the newly elected armed Islamist group Hamas publicly rejected the targeting of churches over this issue, even offering to provide military protection for one church building.
A growing movement of Muslim protest around the world since the cartoons appeared has gained strength this week as the cartoons were republished in six other European countries and Jordan. Amidst economic boycotts, demonstrations outside embassies, burning of the Danish flag and calls for a “Day of Anger”, Christian minorities in Muslim countries have begun to be targeted. The threats to Palestinian church buildings follow attacks on Iraqi Christian students and bombs outside Iraqi churches last Sunday.
These attacks were seen as retaliation for the Danish cartoons, not least because of recent explicit fatwas in Iraq to expel Christians “from streets, schools and institutions” because of events in Denmark.
Muslims seem to have little hesitation in insulting Christian images, for example trampling on the cross as depicted on the Danish flag. For a recent Al-Jazeera picture of this happening in Iraq see link .
MUSLIM FEELINGS VS. NON-MUSLIM LIVES
Yesterday King Abdullah of Jordan addressed the National Prayer Breakfast Leadership Luncheon in Washington. The king is generally considered a voice of moderation in the Muslim world. He condemned Sunday’s bombing of the Iraqi churches, but went on to criticise the publication of caricatures of Muhammad.
“Why should the hurting of Muslim feelings be equated with the injury and destruction of non-Muslim persons and property?” asks Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund. “This gross injustice has gone unremarked. Christian minorities in Muslim countries strive continually to demonstrate that they are loyal citizens of their homelands, yet over and over again they are punished for the deeds of people they do not know in “Christian” countries far away. They are desperately vulnerable, knowing that few would dare to come to their aid or to seek to bring their attackers to justice.”