Islamic tolerance alert: let them put a mosque in Rome, and then these Christians will have a case when they complain about Qatar — what’s that? There is a mosque in Rome? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?
From AP, with thanks to Twostellas:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates “” Qatar may be best known as the home of Al-Jazeera television, but an Anglican congregation now plans to build the country’s first Christian church since Islam’s arrival in the seventh century, a step that risks angering local Muslims.
Clive Handford, the Nicosia-based Anglican bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf, says construction will start in the Qatari capital of Doha in early 2006 on the $7 million Church of the Epiphany, along with a conference center and meeting rooms….
While some see the construction as a sign of increasing religious diversity throughout the world, Qatar’s close-knit Muslim community may become angered if public approval is not sought, said Najeeb al-Nauimi, a prominent lawyer in Doha.
“People will be insulted,” al-Nauimi said. “They respect other religions. But to impose this on them is to say that you are no longer a Muslim state. That will hurt.”…
Christianity disappeared in most Gulf Arab states within a few centuries after Islam’s arrival in the seventh century. But Christian expatriates have migrated to the region over the last hundred years, especially after the discovery of oil.
Tell them how Christianity disappeared, AP. Go on. I dare you. (For those who don’t know, see Bat Ye’or’s seminal work The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam.)
Qatar now counts some 70,000 Christians, including some 7,000 Anglicans and 50,000 Roman Catholics, largely from the Philippines, according to the World Christian Database. Qatar’s Anglican community is its oldest, dating to 1916, the database says….
Energy-rich Qatar has had no purpose-built church since pre-Islamic times, when a chain of churches and monasteries stretched along the western shore of the Gulf from the fourth to the seventh century, Handford said.
Many Qataris, who follow a conservative brand of Islam, were “not enthusiastic” about the return of churches to the tiny country, Handford acknowledged.
The congregation will take security precautions and will not be decorated overtly with Christian crosses, he said, although the walkways and grounds will have crosses and flower motifs resembling those used in early Christian churches….
Public display of crosses is forbidden by the classic dhimmi laws, which exert such a continuing cultural influence that crosses on this church in Qatar will not be “overt.”
“We’ve not yet experienced a backlash,” Handford said by telephone from London, where he attended a fund-raiser for the Doha church hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion.
“I suppose these days there is always a risk, no matter where you are,” Handford said. “We’re not thinking of putting up razor wire or things like that.”
The Anglican archdeacon in Qatar, Ian Young, said the church was one of four planned in the energy-rich Gulf state.
Also in the works are church buildings serving Catholics, Egyptian Coptic Christians and a multidenominational church serving Indian Christians, said Young, a 58-year-old Scot who has served as Doha’s chief Anglican priest since 1991….
Al-Nauimi warned that few Qataris would approve of donating public land so expatriate Christians could build a church. Al-Nauimi, who as a child attended a Christian elementary school in Lebanon, said he had heard of no Qatari Christians.
“This is the affair of a foreign community that is here temporarily. Why should they get land for this?” he asked. “I don’t know what the reaction will be. There is a risk.”
Yes, there is. Baddala deenahu, faqtuluhu and all that, eh, Al-Nauimi?