Gaza (MNN) — Despite their low status in the region, Christians were bravely protesting on the streets of Gaza on Monday after two believers were forcibly converted to Islam, according to the Associated Press.
Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA says, "A young man, Ramez, was forced to convert back to Islam after having been a believer. This is just an example of the kind of pressure that Christians live under."
Ramez's parents say he was held against his will and forced to give up his faith in Christ. A woman was also reportedly re-converted.
Moeller says this is not only an unacceptable practice, but it's one that threatens the very existence of Christians in Hamas-led Gaza.
There are less than 2,000 total Christians in Gaza — whether nominal or evangelical — out of a population of 1.7 million. Moeller says, "It's quite likely that if pressure continues at this level for any length of time, the community will cease to exist altogether. And then the Christian churches in Gaza will simply be museums about what used to be there."
It's looking similar to the extermination of Christians in Iraq, actually. Although Moeller says the attacks against believers are much more violent in Iraq, the situation is still dire in Gaza due to the low population.
"If the radicals in Gaza — and that probably defines the majority of the population: radical Islamist ideology — wanted to, they could eliminate the Christian population very, very rapidly. And this is the great fear."
So although it may only be two believers today, more could follow. And regardless, Open Doors wants all believers there to know that other Christians worldwide are standing with them in prayer.
"The questions that the Christian community have there are fundamentally 'Can they survive?' 'Can they be preserved?' Our commitment at Open Doors is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the persecuted Christians in this context," says Moeller.
"Pray that the Church would remain and that they would be given more civil protections. For the tiny minority, these are very important things: that they have the rights that every other person has, and that they would be able to worship Christ freely and without fear that those among their congregation would be made to forcibly return to Islam."