Christian persecution: Priest STABBED in Bethlehem | World | News

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Father Fadi Shalufa was knifed as he tried to stop a group of men abusing Christians making a holy visit to the birthplace of Jesus, the Basilica of the Nativity,

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Father Shalufa runs the adjacent Catholic Chapel of the Milk Grotto and was hurt after interfering in a commotion on June 1.

In a bid to protect worshippers from a violent crowd, the priest guided the believers to safety in his grotto before closing the gate on the group of men.

One of the men then reached through the metal bars of the gate and struck Father Shalufa with a blunt object, leaving stab wounds.

Palestinian police arrested a group of men following the attack, which was caught on CCTV camera.

The footage shows Father Shalufa shepherding the pilgrims through a gate before admonishing their pursuers.

After a brief argument one of the men lunges at the priest, who backs away holding his chest.

Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said: “We thank God that the injury was minor, but this action is a criminal act that is far from our human, moral and national values.

“We reject attacks against clerics.”

Anti-Persecution charity Open Doors highlighted the ongoing problems facing Christians in Palestine.

The country was ranked 36th in its annual Persecution Watchlist, with the group warning Christians are “caught in the crossfire of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.

The charity has warned: “Their ethnicity means many restrictions from the Israeli side while their faith makes them a minority in the Muslim-majority Palestinian community. Society is conservative and leaving Islam is difficult.

“Converts from Islam bear the brunt of persecution but even changing your church denomination is controversial.

“Israeli restrictions and the fear of growing Islamic radicalism has caused many Christians to emigrate.

“The Christian population is shrinking rapidly.”

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