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Christians are Leaving the Town of Bethlehem

Ken Ellingwood

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BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- From an office near the traditional birthplace of Christ, Mayor Hanna Nasser frets about the prospects for Christians in his slice of the Holy Land.

The outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians more than four years ago has accelerated emigration by Palestinian Christians that began years earlier.

Researchers and officials say 3,000 Christians have left the Bethlehem area since 2000, heading for the United States, Australia and Latin America as the local economy fell victim to fighting, Israeli roadblocks and other restrictions, including a new barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

Over the past decade, the Palestinian Christian population in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip has declined about 10 percent, leaving about 45,000 remaining, said Bernard Sabella, a Bethlehem University sociologist who studies the issue.

Read the entire article on the Detroit News website (new window will open).

Posted: 16-May-05



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