Herland Report (HTV): Persecution against Christians is a massive problem in the Middle East, explains Dr. Petra Heldt, Professor at the Hebrew University and founder of The Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Jerusalem.
He barely survived a suicide attack in Jerusalem in 1989 and stayed over a year at the hospital. After spending decades in the Middle East, she has first hand experience with the growing persecution against Christians in the region.
The growth of Wahhabi and other extremist forms for Islam since the 1980s in particular, has led to a rapid development of intolerance among many Muslims. Palestinian Christians have fled by the tens of thousands to South America and other places, very few are left in Bethlehem. Bethlehem used to be a stronghold for Palestinian Arab Christians.
When asked whether she hated the Muslim suicide bombers, her answer is a firm “no”. Listen to the interview with this remarkable woman.
In a series of interviews, we examine the multicultural fabric of the Middle East, focusing on the situation of the Christian minorities and the persecution against Christians.
Dr. Heldt says: “Westerners are not aware of the many Christians that live in the Middle East, there is little in the media about the massive persecution against this minority today.”
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She says: “The Western Christian faith is a tradition which comes from the orthodox Christians. We have been separated from those Christians over the last thousand years due to the blockade between these worlds.”
“It is only over the past 50 years that we have been able to penetrate again back to our root world where Christianity originally came from. Westerners have so little knowledge about the richness of the faith in Middle East that they hardly care about it.”
“It could be that the cultural barrier stops the communication, as they have kept the original faith that originated from Judaism. For example, this is why Christians in the Middle East use incense, it is in remembrance of the Temple as they used incense and this relation is still kept alive.”
“The reason why Orthodox Christians only wear black, is the outcome of being Dhimmis, of being a third class citizen group within the Muslim world.”
“They had a dress codex that they were not allowed to wear anything except for black. They had to pay huge amount of taxes for not being Muslims. Their whole richness was by the Dhimmi laws taken away from them, and they had nothing left but the black clothes.”
“However, if you go into their church services you will be surprised. They still wear all the colors they had before the Muslim conquest. The more the better!”
“The culture of the Dhimmi is that the Dhimmi is a third class citizen. It is meant to segregate society into Muslims and non-Muslims. It is a system of segregation and injustice.”
“And as much as you oblige to the Dhimmi as a non-Muslim, you may still get on quite well with the Muslim society, but only under the condition that the Dhimmi is kept. That means, you do not speak out against or challenge the Muslim governmental systems.”
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Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Scandinavian historian of comparative religions, bestselling author, commentator and TV producer, known from the media for sharp analysis and fearless speech. She was born and raised in Africa, has lived in Europe, South America, in the Middle East, and travelled extensively in Asia.