Remember the Christian Palestinian refugees at Christmas time

Daniel Schwammenthal reports in the Wall Street Journal on The Forgotten Palestinian Refugees:

Meet Yussuf Khoury, a 23-year old Palestinian refugee living in the West Bank. Unlike those descendents of refugees born in United Nations camps, Mr. Khoury fled his birthplace just two years ago. And he wasn’t running away from Israelis, but from his Palestinian brethren in Gaza.

Mr. Khoury’s crime in that Hamas-ruled territory was to be a Christian, a transgression he compounded in the Islamists’ eyes by writing love poems.

“Muslims tied to Hamas tried to take me twice,” says Mr. Khoury, and he didn’t want to find out what they’d do to him if they ever kidnapped him. He hasn’t seen his family since Christmas 2007 and is afraid even to talk to them on the phone.

Speaking to a group of foreign journalists in the Bethlehem Bible College where he is studying theology, Mr. Khoury describes a life of fear in Gaza. “My sister is under a lot of pressure to wear a headscarf. People are turning more and more to Islamic fundamentalism and the situation for Christians is very difficult,” he says.

The reporter points out that the western media rarely report on the plight of Christians in Gaza and the West Bank. It doesn’t fit into their narrative of everything being Israel’s fault. And it is rare for Palestinian Christians to speak out about their situation. Most of the time they try to keep a low profile so as not to antagonize their Muslim neighbors, and deny any suffering.  The article highlights this attitude:

Samir Qumsieh, the founder of what he says is the holy land’s only Christian TV station, also stresses that there is no “Christian suffering” and that the Christians’ problems are not orchestrated by the PA. Yet his stories of land theft, beatings and intimidation make one wonder why, if the PA doesn’t approve of such injustices, it is doing so little to stop it?

Christians have only recently begun to talk about how Muslim gangs simply come and take possession of Christian-owned land while the Palestinian security services, almost exclusively staffed by Muslims, stand by. Mr. Qumsieh’s own home was firebombed three years ago. The perpetrators were never caught.

“We have never suffered as we are suffering now,” Mr. Qumsieh confesses, violating his own introductory warning to the assorted foreign correspondents in his office not to use the word “suffering.”

The article is datelined Bethlehem. Christmas is a good time to point out that Bethlehem was a Christian city for almost 2,000 years, with its holy site of the Church of the Nativity, built on the site of Jesus’s birth. Mr. Qumsieh pointed out that Christians are abandoning Bethlehem (which is located in the West Bank) in droves.  Sixty years ago they were about 80 percent of the population there, and now they’re down to 20 percent. Of course Muslims have no respect for Bethlehem’s status as a city important to Christians. In fact, they desecrated the Church of the Nativity without a qualm in 2002 when a group of Palestinian gunmen took it over during an Israeli action, using priests and nuns as human shields. (One account of that incident is here.)

Guest column: Americans should know how Karen people have stood with America

From Madeleine Blu of the Bwetee Pe lulu Team:

I have been reading various USA’s newspapers on line. Over a period of time I have read posts, comments and articles from the USA on line. Most recent has been the Fort Wayne discussions on the Refugee Resettlement Watch Web Site. I was perturbed to read of the confusion regarding just what ‘Burmese’ means. I have written the short comment below to attempt to clarify who was who in Burma. I am most fortunate in the Refugee Resettlement Watch’s impartiality in this matter. I have been unable to get this information on Fox News, BBC TV and Radio, other TV stations in the USA and the U. K. Ditto with the newspapers. Given the daily horror of innocent lives lost by bullet, by torture, or by landmine there should be a News Bulletin every night.


Prior to and during the 2nd World War the various ethnic groups were addressed and known by their ethnic names, there was no confusion. The Karen were known as the Karen, whose homeland was in the Hills (Karen State) and the Delta, then there is the Kachin in the north, Kachin State, then there is the Shan, the Wa, the Naga, the Burman and so on. It is only sometime after the War that the word ‘Burmese’ came more and more into use to mean all the people who lived in Burma. Yet this is against the expressed will of the Karen and the Kachin.

During the 2nd World War, a Burman, Aung San, led most Burmans and the majority of other ethnic groups to fight for NAZI Germany and Imperialist Japan. Aung San established the Burma Independence Army (BIA) in 1941, which grew out of the Burma National League (the Dobama Asi-Ayon or The Thakin Party) which Aung San joined in 1938. The British, American and Allied Soldiers referred to them either as fifth columnists or as the Burma Traitor Army. Along with the ever present danger of the fifth columnists were other ethnic groups and the Japanese. The Allies had to traverse the immense difficulties, which we can only guess at, of jungle terrain with its blood-sucking insects and deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

This is what the American forces, known affectionately as MERRILL’S MARAUDERS, were up against; fortunately, they could depend on the Kachin, our Allies. One of the well-known battles was at and around the Kachin capital city called ’Myitkyina’. Merrill’s Marauders were to know the great loss of many, many brave and fine men, who fought with great courage, in much pain and distress. These men and all like them in the 2nd World War are a great loss to the world.

The Karen were not only regular soldiers but played such a vital role volunteering in levies that it has been said that without them it is possible that Burma could not have been re-taken from the Japanese and Aung San’s BIA. Aung San was and still is regarded as the ‘Father of modern Burma‘. He is also the father of Aung San Suu Kyi. The modern roots of the present day horror for the Karen and Kachin dates from this War.

Going further back into history, the Burman grossly subjugated the Karen, despised and debased them. If caught they would be killed, enslaved or tortured by the Burman. When the British arrived the relationship that developed between them and the Karen, was that the British protected them from the Burman. The Karen, no longer having to be wary were able to settle and build homes and villages for themselves. Although it is said that during the reign of the British they favoured the Karens, colonial documents show that the British still gave sway to the Burman Court and gave far more favours to the Burman than the Karen; although they thought greatly of the Karen person and their ‘plucky little nation’.

It was the arrival of the Americans, in particular that great American, Adoniram Judson, (Dr.) the Baptist missionary, which brought the true renaissance and well-being for the Karen. He was not the first missionary to arrive in Burma, indeed, there have been reports of the Roman Catholics and other missionaries before him, but it was to Pastor Adoniram Judson that the key was given to discovering a gem, indeed a treasure trove of precious gems in the Karen.

Pastor Judson had been in Rangoon for some time enduring hardships and imprisonment for his Faith, completely unaware that to the east, in the Hills, were a race of people whose own spiritual tradition was not only Biblical but also Christian. The Karen would walk by the British and Pastor Judson singing of the God of the Holy Bible and the awaited Holy One in their own language which neither the British nor Pastor Judson understood.

I need to take a few moments to explain the word ‘missionary’. It is often misunderstood or used negatively by people of different religions or of no religion, to accuse the missionary or the country where the missionary is from of some sort of wrongdoing. So I emphasize that the Karen were never converted to Christianity, they were already Christian and Pastor Judson’s mission (meaning ’a task’) with the Karens was over when Ko Tha Byu was hired by him as a water-carrier. Pastor Judson had been translating the whole of the Holy Bible into Burmese and compiling a grammar.

Ko Tha Byu had seen part of what had been written and although he had great difficulty in understanding Burmese he read enough to realise that it was very similar to the God traditions of his own people. He took this message (his mission) to his people and the response from them was immediate too. The Karen were fired with joy and relief that their God traditions had been validated.

Ko Tha Byu was Baptised in 1828 and started immediately as the Karen Apostle, teaching his own people. It has been said that this was the most remarkable Christian event in modern times. Several suffered for their Faith at the hands of the Burman authorities and were even crucified. Pastor Judson went on to form a way to write down the Karen language; he used the Burman alphabet, adding more letters and translated the Holy Bible into both Karen dialects of Sgaw and Pwo. This most remarkable man did many, many other things.


Technically, all the other ethnic groups in Burma (Myanmar) are entering America on the definition of the UN’s refugee statement. Meaning that all people in other ethnic groups are fleeing the Military Junta … on political, religious and ethical grounds. Therefore, as they are all ‘pro democracy’ they should get hap hap happy along together. However, this is not true, there are ‘economic refugees’, false refugees, fraudulent claiming refugees and people who have bribed, stolen or impersonated the identity of another group.  Many of the very old Karen’s (over 70) are preyed upon by other ethnic groups who harass, intimidate or threaten the Karen to cough up his identity. There have been murders.   There are also the Burman ‘spies’, people, usually young student looking types, hired by the Junta to enter the camps and find out what is going on, or to further harass the Karen (by rape, by thieving their identity), or to go America/UK etc as a refugee and spy directly on the American/UK etc governments – as well as on what the Karen are up to.

Ft. Morgan, CO Somali murder update: gruesome rumors spreading

Do you remember this story from back in the first week of November.   From time to time, I’ve returned to the Ft. Morgan Times to see whatever happened with the case of the Somali woman stabbed to death by a Somali man with the same last name (honor killing?).  Initially a gag order was placed on the case, but to the generally politically correct Ft. Morgan Times credit they appealed to have the gag order lifted and it was. 

However, effectively there must be a gag order because I haven’t found another word printed about it since, until I saw this innocuously titled article from a few days ago:  ‘Coffee with a Cop draws Ft. Morgan locals.’  The article begins with a boring paragraph about the mundane issues affecting the everyday lives of Ft. Morgan residents.   But, then launches into what appears to be on many peoples’ minds—the Somali murder.

Gruesome details spreading on blogs?   Gosh I would love to know which blogs!  And, by the way, Ft. Morgan Times, if straight factual news reporting on the case would be occuring there would be no rumors spreading!  I have seen no further reporting on the murder since early November (if there has been, someone send me a link!).

Several people sat down with Fort Morgan police officers Friday to talk about traffic, speeding, the hazards of foliage that blocks the line of sight at intersections and the rumors which abound in the community.

For instance, there are rumors floating around that the murder allegedly involving Ahmed Abdi of Greeley in Fort Morgan last month was a ritual killing, but that’s not true, Police Chief Keith Kuretich said as he sat in Cafe Lotus talking with locals during what he’s calling “Coffee With a Cop.”  [Edit:  Honor Killings are a form of ritual killing]

He was joined by Lt. Darin Sagel and Lt. Jared Crone.

One Fort Morgan resident asked Kuretich about the rumor that the woman who was killed was also decapitated.

That also is not true, nor is it true that her tongue was cut out or that she was stabbed multiple times, he said. Those are things said on blogs, but bear no resemblance to reality.

In fact, the murder was no more violent — perhaps less so — than some other stabbings seen in Fort Morgan, although he could not go into too much detail due to the ongoing prosecution, Kuretich said.   [Chief Kuretich, which is it, we learned previously that murders in Ft. Morgan are very rare, so what stabbings are you referring to? Do you have a lot of stabbings to compare it with?]

Yesterday I discussed the case with Jerry Gordon who writes about Somali Muslim issues (among other things) at New English Review, and here is what he said about this case:

The Fort Morgan Police Chief ‘s kaffe klatch remarks about the murder of the Somali woman, is a bit disingenuous. His dismissal of the ‘rumors’ floating around the blogosphere of grisly details may be appropriate. However, he was less than forthcoming about the relationship between the Greeley Somali assailant and victim who shared the same last name and from eyewitness accounts knew each other. I get concerned about marginalizing any murder, whether it is this one or others that might have occurred in Fort Morgan by saying that this was was no different from others. The chief ought to be taken to task for that and his scrupulous avoidance of the possible family or clan relationship to the Somali woman murder victim. Over all, his remarks were very PC and callous at the same time.

Back to the ‘Coffee with a Cop’ article which abruptly switches to mundane issues like the line at McDonalds as part of a discussion on driving issues.

Many of the things people brought up were fairly common, but Kuretich said he was surprised to hear about the problem with traffic around the McDonald’s restaurant on some days.

Then we return again to what apparently was really on peoples’ minds—the Somalis in their midst.   The Chief assures them that everything will be just fine in the end once the Somalis understand our culture, once they become “Americanized.”  Oh yeh, go check out Lewiston, ME that has a Somali population for many more years than Ft. Morgan has had one, and is where roaming gangs of Somali ‘youths’ are now (years later) randomly attacking and robbing residents.  But in Ft. Morgan everything will be peachy.

One of the challenges officers face is not being able to speak the languages of the different East African refugees who have moved into the community, he said.

Residents should remember that not all of the black people in town are Somalis or Islamic, and groups have their own cultures, Kuretich said.

East Africans are like any other people, with most trying to fit into the community and obey the laws, but there are always some in any group who challenge authority, he said.

The main law enforcement issue is the driving of some Africans, who are inexperienced, Kuretich said.

However, with the help of Cargill Meat Solutions and OneMorgan County, some training is going on and that can be seen in practice at Cargill, he said. [Edit:  Cargill lured the Somalis to Ft. Morgan in the first place]

African community members were concerned about driving, too, especially after one person died in an accident, Kuretich said.

Most other concerns come down to understanding cultural differences.

In Somalia, for instance, people hang out in the village square, but that translates to what Americans call loitering if done in downtown Fort Morgan, Kuretich said.

And they do speak loudly sometimes, which is another cultural expression, he said.

Somalis have been cooperative once they have learned what it means to locals, although there are young refugees who might resist it, Kuretich said.

They truly consider Fort Morgan home and want to fit in, he said. They are becoming more Americanized as the months go by.