Rami Ayyad (Courtesy Baptist Press)
The manager of a Christian bookstore in the Gaza Strip who was found dead last weekend was first publicly beaten and tortured by Islamic gunmen accusing him of spreading Christianity, according to witnesses and Palestinian security officials speaking to WND.
The body of Rami Ayyad, who managed the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, reportedly was found Sunday riddled with gunshot and stab wounds. Ayyad had been abducted the previous night as he closed his shop, according to a local Christian group.
Ayyad, a Baptist, was accused by Gaza-based Islamic groups of engaging in missionary activity. His bookstore, owned by the Palestinian Bible Society, was firebombed in April after which he told relatives he received numerous death threats from Islamists.
The day of his abduction, Ayyad reportedly said he was being followed by a car that had no license plates.
According to witnesses and security officials associated with Hamas’ so-called Executive Force speaking to WND, Ayyad was publicly tortured a few blocks from his store before he was shot to death.
The witnesses said they saw three armed men, two of whom were wearing masks, beat Ayyad repeatedly with clubs and the butts of their guns while they accused him of attempting to spread Christianity in Gaza. The witnesses said that after sustaining the beating, Ayyad was shot by all three men.
Gaza Bible Society
Hamas security sources told WND Ayyad’s body showed signs of torture.
Ayyad was buried Sunday, leaving behind a pregnant wife and two young children. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
Christians warned: Accept Islamic law
Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a “military wing” to enforce Muslim law in Gaza, told WND although his group “didn’t carry out the Ayyad attack,” all Christians in Gaza engaged in missionary activity will be “dealt with harshly.”
It was Abu Saqer’s group that had been accused of firebombing Ayyad’s bookstore in April. Jihadia Salafiya is also suspected of a slew of Islamist attacks, including firebombing Internet cafes and one in May against a United Nations school in Gaza after it allowed boys and girls to participate in the same sporting event. One person was killed in that attack.
Hamas in June seized complete control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah amid widespread fears it would impose hard-line Islamic rule in the territory, and that life for Christians might deteriorate.
About 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.
Immediately after Hamas’ Gaza coup, Abu Saqer told WND in an exclusive interview Christians could continue living safely in the Gaza Strip only if they accepted Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings.
“[Now that Hamas is in power,] the situation has changed 180 degrees in Gaza,” said Abu Saqer, speaking from Gaza.
“Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity. No more alcohol on the streets. All women, including non-Muslims, need to understand they must be covered at all times while in public,” he said.
“Also the activities of Internet cafes, pool halls and bars must be stopped,” said Abu Saqer. “If it goes on, we’ll attack these things very harshly.”
Abu Saqer accused the leadership of the Gaza Christian community of “proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims with funding from American evangelicals.”
“This missionary activity is endangering the entire Christian community in Gaza,” he said.
Abu Saqer claimed there was “no need” for the thousands of Christians in Gaza to maintain a large number of institutions in the territory.
He said Hamas “must work to impose an Islamic rule or it will lose the authority it has and the will of the people.”
‘West can learn from Islamic values’
In response to the accusations Hamas may impose hard-line Islamic rules, Hamas chief in Gaza and former foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND in a recent interview: “I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people, but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It’s what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homelessness and AIDS.”
Asked if Hamas is seeking to impose Islamic law on the Palestinians, al-Zahar responded, “The Palestinian people are Muslim people, and we do not need to impose anything on our people, because they are already committed to their faith and religion. People are free to choose their way of life, their way of dress and behavior.”
Al-Zahar said his terror group, which demands strict dress codes for females, respects women’s rights.
“It is wrong to think that in our Islamic society there is a lack of rights for women. Women enjoy their rights. What we have, unlike the West, is that young women cannot be with men and have relations outside marriage. Sometimes with tens of men. This causes the destruction of the family institution and the fact that many kids come to the world without knowing who are their fathers or who are their mothers. This is not a modern and progressed society,” al-Zahar explained.
The terror chieftain told WND the West can learn from his group’s Islamic values.
“Here I refer to what was said in the early ’90s by Britain’s Prince Charles at Oxford University,” al-Zahar said. “He spoke about Islam and its important role in morality and culture. He said the West must learn from Islam how to bring up children properly and to teach them the right values.”
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.