In the photo at left, Christian shopkeepers on the right are confronted by several Muslim youth, during Muslim march through Nazareth, Israel, Dec. 31, 2006 (WND photo)
Islamic groups held a large militant march down the main streets of Nazareth this weekend, highlighting for some here the plight of Christians in this ancient Jewish and Christian city where Muslims have become a majority and members of the dwindling Christian population say they suffer regular intimidation.
Nazareth, considered one of the holiest cities for Christians, is described in the New Testament as the childhood home of Jesus. It contains multiple important shrines and churches, including the famous Church of the Basilica of the Annunciation, the site at which many Christians believe the Virgin Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that she had been selected as the mother of Jesus.
As you might recall, back in January 2002, Palestinian Muslims overran the Church of Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and moved in and started building a mosque in its basement. The Muslim group has, under cover of night, proceeded illegally to dig a foundation and build the lower parts of a permanent mosque. They have cut this foundation, through archaeological remains, including pillars from an ancient synagogue or church, and bones from an ancient (likely Jewish) cemetery. They are now proceeding to build, driving down pylons and paving the basement floor, though they still have not obtained the various necessary permits to do so. They are determined to make this structure their central base of operation.
Here is a picture of the interior of the Church Of The Annunciation, in Nazareth, taken in 1894. Please note that the original building and some version of it was known to have still been in existence around 570 AD, but it was destroyed in the 7th century after the Muslim conquest of the Jews and Christians living in that region. The second church was constructed following the Christian conquest of the area in the First Crusade. It was destroyed in 1263 AD after the final destruction of the Crusader kingdoms. A small number of Franciscan Friars continued to occupy the ruins, in spite of occasional persecutions, and constructed a small church on the site in 1620 when Christians were permitted to return. Sheikh Dhaher el Amer permitted construction of the fourth church in 1730. This structure was enlarged in 1877, and then completely demolished in 1955 to allow construction of a new basilica, which was completed in the 1960s. It is the largest Christian sanctuary in the Middle East, and was dedicated in 1964 by Pope Paul VI.
This is yet another current example of Palestinian Islamic policy to assault Christian symbols. Originally, Muslims wanted to erect a new mosque in the front yard of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth; an Israeli court eventually prohibited this.
The Islamic Movement, the main Muslim political party in Nazareth, said it organized yesterday's march to celebrate Eid ul-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, which commemorates the Muslim belief Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah.
Christian and Jewish faith dictates it was Isaac, not Ishmael, whom Abraham almost sacrificed.
Islamic Movement leaders paraded down Nazareth's main thoroughfare brandishing their party's green flag. Young Muslim men in battle gear marched and beat drums as a man on loudspeaker repeatedly exclaimed in Arabic, "Allah is great."
Hundreds of activists strutted screaming Islamist epithets, including "Islam is the only truth" and "Islam shall rule all."
Tens of thousands of Nazareth residents, seemingly mostly Muslim, congregated on the streets as the march passed by. Muslim children launched firecrackers into the sky, occasionally misfiring, with the small explosives landing dangerously close to the crowds.
Many of the town's Christian residents stayed away from the event, with the exception of Christian shopkeepers who worked in the area. WND observed as several Muslim youth marching in the parade started to charge at three local Christian shopkeepers but the youth stopped short.
Below, in a blatant demonstration of arrogance, Muslims hold a service and pray facing Mecca outside the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, Dec. 31, 2006 (WND photo)
Islam enjoys declaring supremacy over Judaism and Christianity by invalidating claims to historic Jewish and Christian presence in the area. Once having disarmed Judaism and Christianity of their religious symbols and having gained military strength, Islam may in due time be emboldened to conquer and subjugate the world.
Are you prepared to give up everything you believe in?