Rami Ayyad, director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society, had been threatened to stop selling Christian religious books in the Gaza Strip.

 Christian activist slain in Hamas controlled Gaza


Memorial service for Rami Ayyad (Photo: Reuters)

The body of Rami Khader Ayyad, a prominent Palestinian Christian activist, was found in Hamas controlled Gaza on Sunday, October 7, 2007. Ayyad, 30, had been abducted near his home a day earlier by suspected Muslim extremists. Medical officials reported that Ayyad had been shot and stabbed repeatedly by his captors. He was the father of two small children and his wife is pregnant with their third.

Ayyad was the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza City. About six months ago, an explosion at the Society blew out windows and started a fire that burned shelves of Christian pamphlets and religious texts. Police stated that a bomb caused the blast.

There was no claim of responsibility for the killing of Rami Ayyad, but Gazan sources suspect a Muslim extremist group was behind the murder. Ayyad had been threatened by Islamic extremists in the past. He is reported to have received several death threats since his Protestant Bible shop was fire bombed six months ago. Sources said anonymous men have recently been threatening Ayyad, demanding he stop selling Christian religious books in the Gaza Strip.

Ayyad told friends that bearded men in a car stalked him and looked at him strangely after he locked up on Thursday. Neighbors said unknown assailants seized Ayyad on a street near his home in Gaza City on Saturday night.

Ayyad’s mother, Anisa, said her son had phoned on Saturday afternoon to tell his family he had been abducted but would be freed later in the evening. "Rami redeemed Christ with his blood. Rami redeemed the Bible with his blood," she said. Police were notified, but his body was found the next morning in the Zaytoun neighborhood of eastern Gaza City.

Up to 300 Muslims and Christians attended a memorial service for Rami Ayyad in a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City yesterday. Ayyad was born into a Greek Orthodox family but worshipped in a Baptist congregation. In addition to running the religious bookshop, he was well known for offering financial assistance to distressed Gaza residents.

Some 3,000 Christians live among 1.5 million Muslims in the Gaza Strip, territory that Hamas seized in fighting against the secular Fatah faction in June.

Shortly after the Hamas terror organization seized control of the Gaza Strip, Christians living there appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Islamist extremists.

The appeal came following attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City. The Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church were torched and looted by masked gunmen using rocket-propelled grenades. The terrorists destroyed almost everything inside. Crosses were broken, a statue of Jesus was damaged, prayer books were burnt, and computers and other equipment were destroyed. Damages were estimated at more than $500,000. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the "barbaric" attack was the act of Hamas’ militia.