Tags: Two | West | Bank | Churches | Attacked | After | Pope

Two West Bank Churches Attacked After Pope Remarks

Saturday, 16 September 2006 12:00 AM

NABLUS, West Bank -- Unknown assailants threw fire bombs on Saturday at two churches in the West Bank city of Nablus, following a day of Palestinian protests against comments Pope Benedict made about Islam. No one was hurt.

Jabi Saadeh, a member of the Anglican Church in the city, said about four or five masked men in a white car threw several fire bombs at the wall of the church, without causing damage.

A similar attack on a Greek Orthodox church in Nablus set ablaze one of its walls, leaving part of it charred. George Awad, head of the Greek Orthodox church, denounced what he called "a childish act."

In a speech in Germany on Tuesday, the Pope appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that the early Muslims spread their religion by violence. It was unclear whether the church attacks were connected to his remarks.

The Pontiff's words sparked protests across the Arab world. Thousands of Palestinians marched in the Gaza Strip on Friday to protest his remarks as local leaders condemned the Pope and called on him to apologise to all Muslims.

"We have nothing to do with the Pope's remarks about Islam," Awad said. "We condemn these remarks. We are brothers and sisters during good and bad times in Palestine and tolerance is the common oxygen for people here - Christians and Muslims."

Senior officials from the Palestinian government, which has been led by the Islamic Hamas group after it won a January parliamentary election, and other local leaders gathered at the scene and offered words of condolence.

"We condemn this irresponsible attack and we believe that these acts will not affect the eternal unity of the Palestinian community," said Adli Yaaish, the mayor of Nablus and a Hamas leader.

On Friday, a youth centre run by the Greek Orthodox church in the Gaza Strip was slightly damaged by a small explosion, witnesses said.

Most of the some 3.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip identify themselves as Muslim, while up to 2 percent are Christian. Attacks between members of the communities are rare.

© reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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NABLUS, West Bank -- Unknown assailants threw fire bombs on Saturday at two churches in the West Bank city of Nablus, following a day of Palestinian protests against comments Pope Benedict made about Islam. No one was hurt. Jabi Saadeh, a member of the Anglican Church in...
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2006-00-16
Saturday, 16 September 2006 12:00 AM
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