It isn’t news to anyone that some adherents of the Muslim religion do not have a lot of respect for the traditions and practice of other religions. In March 2001, the Taliban dynamited and destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The smaller of the statues was built between 544 and 595, the larger was built between 591 and 644. They are believed to have been built by the Kushans, with the guidance of local Buddhist monks, at the heyday of their empire. The larger figure was also said to portray Dīpankara Buddha. They were perhaps the most famous cultural landmarks of the region, and the site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the surrounding cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley.
Note that the site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Well, on Thursday, the Daily Caller reported that UNESCO is placing the Church of the Nativity on the list of World Heritage in Danger sites. It will be placed under the internationally sanctioned administration of the Palestinian Authority (PA) (a group dominated by Fatah.
Does anyone remember how Fatah treated the Church of the Nativity in 2002?
The Daily Caller article reminds us:
…the future of the church is now at risk.
That’s because the responsibility for the caretaking of this site has now been entrusted to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which has not proven itself worthy of such responsibility. Fatah has been, since its founding in 1964, complicit in the harassment, persecution, assassination, imprisonment and expulsion of Christians from Palestine. In fact, it was Fatah gunmen who commandeered the church, held monks hostage within its walls and wired it with explosives in 2002 during a standoff with the Israel Defense Forces. Where was the respect for this holy site then? Who can guarantee that respect exists today? The international community has turned to the United Nations and specifically to UNESCO.
Christianity does not depend on the existence of the Church of the Nativity. The mistreatment of that church will not greatly impact what Christian people believe. It will, however, show, beyond a shadow of doubt, what the PA is made of. I truly do not see a lot of difference between the past behavior of Fatah toward the Church of the Nativity and the behavior of the Taliban toward the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.
If this is the best that the UN can do to take care of an important part of the heritage of Christianity, they need to be relived of their responsibilities.