It’s a dhimmi church to begin with: it will not have crosses outside the building. And note well that the church is meant only to serve Christian foreigners who are working in Qatar, not native Qataris. But even that is too much for some hardliners.
Islamic Tolerance Alert. “Qataris Divided on First Church,” from IslamOnline (thanks to PRCS):
DOHA “” The construction of the first-ever church in Doha has sparked a hot debate in Qatar with a group pressing for granting the Christian minority this right and another viewing it as an imposition on the Islamic nature of the Gulf state.
Having “places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam,” former dean of the Shari`ah Faculty at Qatar University Abdul Hamid al-Ansari told Agence France Presse (AFP) Saturday, February 16.
Ansari attributed the opposition to “a fanatic culture resulting from religious teaching (stipulating) hatred for the other and from social norms that denied non-Muslims their rights on the basis of old political and security considerations that have become obsolete.”
Let’s all welcome the presence of churches in Qatar… as a demonstration of Islamic tolerance and human brotherhood,” he said.
The $7 million Roman Catholic St. Mary’s church will be inaugurated on March 15 by Vatican envoy Cardinal Ivan Dias.
The complex will include conference facilities, temporary living accommodations, a library, and a cafe.
The land was given by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Catholics comprise the majority of Qatar’s estimated 70,000 Christian expatriates.
The church construction, however, has drawn fire from some Qataris, who saw the building imposed on them.
“Qatar is a Muslim, not secular state, as per its constitution,” Former justice minister Najib al-Nuaimi told AFP
He called for holding a referendum on church construction in Qatar.
“There should have been a referendum on the building of these churches in order to ensure they are socially accepted.”
Rashed al-Subaie echoed a similar view.
“Christians should be allowed to practice their faith but should do so in line with public morals without being given licenses to set up places of worship.”
St. Mary’s parish priest, Father Tomasito Veneracion, a Filipino, said the church would be “merely a place for collective prayer.”
He said it would not have crosses outside the building or serve as a platform for proselytizing.