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THE PLIGHT OF PALESTINE’S RELIGIOUS MINORITIES by ESSICA OWEN PAYNE (Philos Project via Mosaic Magazine)

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The Grim Fate of Christians under Palestinian Rule

Mar. 6, 2015

Last year, as part of its effort to seek recognition from international bodies, the Palestinian Authority signed two UN “covenants” that include a commitment to protecting freedom of religion. Nevertheless, as Jessica Owen Payne writes, the PA continues to persecute its Christians,:

[R]esidents of the West Bank are subject to hard labor for life for selling land to an “enemy state or one of its subjects.” . . . Most Palestinians take this to mean that they are forbidden to sell property to any non-Muslim. . . . Palestinian marriages are invalid if they are made between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man; in the West Bank, that invalidity extends to marriages between a Muslim man and a Jewish or Christian woman. In addition, mothers are able to gain custody of their children if, and only if, they are not apostates from Islam. . . .

Muslims—or converts [to Islam]—in the [Palestinian] territories have full rights to citizenship, but the same cannot be said of those who choose to leave Islam. Although the letter of Palestinian law allows for the adoption or rejection of Islam, converts to another religion end up losing all social and religious protection and can face the loss of property, the nullification of marriage, and, ultimately, . . . the death penalty. In addition, those who identify as secular or atheistic often hide their non-belief under a religious façade to avoid arrest.

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