Israel blamed for Christian exodus

The mayor of Bethlehem has blasted the Israeli occupation as an oppressive siege which is forcing Christians to leave the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ in ever increasing numbers.

    Nasir said the occupation was forcing Christians to leave

    Hanner Nasir, the Christian mayor of this West Bank town, on Monday said living under an occupation was an offence to human dignity.

    "Each year I try not to be gloomy in my Christmas message," he said. "But the harsh facts on the ground and the clouds of instability and suffering that continue to overshadow Bethlehem strongly push me to this direction.

    "Living under occupation is certainly the most painful experience man can face and the biggest offence to human rights and dignity," he said at a news conference in the city hall.

    "We each day have to swallow the bitterness of the Israeli practices: killing of our people, demolition of houses, arrest and humiliation.

    "The closure and oppressive siege have crippled Bethlehem and deteriorated the living conditions of its people to an unprecedented degree," he said.

    Christians leaving

    About 2400 Christians out of a total of approximately 40,000 living in Bethlehem and surrounding areas in the southern West Bank have left since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian intifada, according to Nasir.

    "Imagine the city of Bethlehem with no Christians," he said.

    "Christians all over the world should know this reality. If we don't have a quick breakthrough in the peace process more are going to leave."

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.