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Les Chrétiens de Bethléem ont peur de leurs voisins

Selon un article du Jerusalem Post, à mettre en liaison avec la deuxième procédure de plainte contre la Télévision suisse romande. Je traduis juste le premier paragraphe, pour donner le ton, mais je copie le tout, pour le dossier [Update: voir la version française complète]:

Plusieurs familles de Chrétiens ont finalement décidé de briser leur silence et de parler ouvertement de ce qu’ils qualifient de persécution musulmane de la minorité chrétienne de la ville.

The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of “intimidation” for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded “collaborators” with Israel.

But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.

“The situation is very dangerous,” said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station. “I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation.”

Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with fire-bombs, but no one was hurt.

Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.

He said a monk was recently roughed up for trying to prevent a group of Muslim men from seizing lands owned by Christians in Beit Sahur. Thieves have targeted the homes of many Christian families and a “land mafia” has succeeded in laying its hands on vast areas of land belonging to Christians, he added.

Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family’s six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. “A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land,” said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.

The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. “We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land,” she said, almost in tears. “Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale.” When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.

“My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him,” Georgette Lama said. “These people have no heart. We’re afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking.”

The Lamas have since knocked on the doors of scores of PA officials in Bethlehem seeking their intervention, but to no avail. At one stage, they sent a letter to Abbas, who promised to launch an investigation.

“We heard that President Mahmoud Abbas is taking our case very seriously,” said Georgette Lama. “But until now he hasn’t done anything to help us get our land back. We are very concerned because we’re not the only ones suffering from this phenomenon. Most Christians are afraid to speak, but I don’t care because we have nothing more to lose.”

The couple’s Christian neighbor, Edward Salama, said the problem in the city was the absence of law and order. “We are living in a state of chaos and lawlessness,” he said. “The police are afraid of the thugs who are taking our lands.”

Salama expressed deep concern over the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem, noting that many were leaving the country as a result of the deterioration.

“When I see what’s happening to Christians here, I worry a lot for our future,” he said. “They are targeting Christians, because we are seen as weak.”

The Lamas said they decided to go public with the hope that the international community would intervene with the PA to halt the land-grab. “We will fight and fight until we recover our land,” Fuad Lama said. “We will resort to the courts and to the public opinion for help.

“Unfortunately, Christian leaders and spokesmen are afraid to talk about the problems we are facing. We know of three other Christian families – Salameh, Kawwas and Asfour – whose lands were also illegally seized by Muslims.”

A Christian businessman who asked not to be identified said the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem and its surroundings had deteriorated ever since the area was handed over to the PA in 1995.

“Every day we hear of another Christian family that has immigrated to the US, Canada or Latin America,” he said. “The Christians today make up less than 15 percent of the population.

People are running away because the Palestinian government isn’t doing anything to protect them and their property against Muslim thugs. Of course not all the Muslims are responsible, but there is a general feeling that Christians have become easy prey.”

Comments

  1. loulou
    January 26th, 2007 | 1:02 pm

    [AJM: Oui, Loulou a déjà publié une fois le sondage suivant sur mon site, ici: ajm.ch/wordpress/?p=442#comment-7405. Et comme les anglophones peuvent l'apprendre dans l'article ci-dessus, les Chrétiens vivant dans les territoires de l'AP ont une raison impérieuse de ne pas se plaindre des exactions des Musulmans et de toujours bien dire ce qui plaira aux fanatiques palestiniens: la peur des représailles. Un sentiment que Loulou ne connaît pas, lui.]

    Results of the Public Opinion Survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Research and Cultural Dialogue (PCRD)

    This survey was commissioned by Open Bethlehem, an international PR campaign for Bethlehem, and covered more than 1000 respondents in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala. The survey questions covered a variety of aspects that relate to the experiences and attitudes of the residents of the three cities.

    The key findings of the survey were as follows:

    - 43.1% are pessimistic in different degrees about the future of the city of Bethlehem.
    - 20.1% of the Christians say that many of their relatives have emigrated recently, as against 5.4% Muslims responding to the same question.
    - 47.8% of all respondents have considered emigrating.
    - 12.7% are in the process of emigrating, 15.7% of Christians and 8.3% of Muslims.
    - 76.4% believe that the main cause of the emigration of 400 Christian families in the past few years is due to the Israeli aggression and occupation, whereas 3.1% only believe that it is due to the rise of Islamic movements.
    - 66% of the Christians believe that Israel deals with the Christian Heritage of Bethlehem with brutality or indifference.
    - 73.3% of Christians believe that the Palestinian National Authority deals with the Christian Heritage of Bethlehem with respect.
    - 82.5% think that the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) should list Bethlehem as an International Cultural Heritage Site.
    - 74.4% believe that most people around the world must have heard about Bethlehem.
    - 75.7% believe that most people around the world would want to visit Bethlehem
    - 34.9% believe that the most important factor that prevents tourists from visiting Bethlehem is fear for their own safety, and 28.4% believe that it is fear of general violence that might erupt in the area.
    - 81.3% believe in different degrees that Bethlehem is a safe place for tourists.
    - 86.1% believe that the churches should make a greater effort to help Bethlehem.
    - 52.1% believe that most people around the world know little about the reality of the situation in Bethlehem, whereas 22.6% believe that most of them know nothing about Bethlehem.

  2. MoMo
    January 26th, 2007 | 4:23 pm

    Super ce post Loulou,
    pourquoi ne pas faire un post de votre sondage sur le site du Jerusalem Post pour voir les réactions des internautes? Ce serait drôle non?
    De la confrontation des idées surgira peut-être enfin la vérité. En lisant certains chiffres je comprends pourquoi l’homme au kefieh puis son successeur se précipite le 24 décembre à Bethléem, merci Loulou d’éclairer notre naivité et de nous expliquer la dihimmitude à la mode palestinienne.

  3. Netha
    January 26th, 2007 | 10:08 pm

    “73.3% of Christians believe that the Palestinian National Authority deals with the Christian Heritage of Bethlehem with respect”, Loulou?

    Dans des statistiques imaginaires ou extorquées sous menace?
    Ce n’est pas ce que disent les chrétiens pourtant d’origine arabe expulsés de leur village, violés, maltraités depuis le retrait de l’autorité israélienne, depuis la passation des pouvoirs, et qui, pour certains, ont peur de parler face à la caméra, qui regrettent le bon temps où Israël les laissait pratiquer leur foi.
    Où peut-on les entendre ? Dans le documentaire de Pierre Rehov :
    HOLY LAND: CHRISTIANS IN PERIL
    http://www.katinaproductions.com/rehov/previewhl.html  

  4. March 14th, 2007 | 4:06 pm

    ERR s