May 19, 2005
Bethlehem, West Bank (CNSNews.com) - Christians in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, are concerned that their city may slowly become an Islamic stronghold following recent municipal elections in which radical Islamic groups took a number of seats.
For the first time ever, Bethlehem's municipal council now includes members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. With seven seats between them, Muslims have a near majority in the 15-seat council.
Christian candidates from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine share the remaining eight seats that are allotted to the Christians.
Christians are upset because the newly elected members will want to give a more Muslim religious tone to the municipality, said one Christian Arab with ties to Bethlehem.
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