Published July 17, 2012
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Dozens of Christians in predominantly Muslim Gaza have staged a rare protest, claiming two members of their community were forcibly converted to Islam and are being held against their will.
Gaza police say the two are staying with a Muslim religious official at their request, because they fear retribution from their families for converting.
Christians are a minority of about 1,500 people in Gaza, a territory with 1.7 million Muslim residents. Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled but have largely kept silent.
Monday's protest was a rare exception. Gaza's Archbishop Alexious said the converts -- a 25-year-old man and a woman with three children -- should be returned to their families.
Forcible conversions have been unheard of in Gaza before.