Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 8, 2007
Muslim gunmen in the Gaza Strip tried to kill another Palestinian Christian over the weekend, sources in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post.
They said four masked gunmen tried to kidnap Nabil Fuad Ayad, who works as a guard at a local church. Nabil's cousin, Rami, was kidnapped and murdered two months ago by the same group, the sources said.
The sources identified the gunmen as members of the radical Islamic Salafi movement.
"They were dressed in the traditional Salafi clothes," said an eyewitness. "They were also carrying guns."
The gunmen tried to force Ayad into their car as he was walking in the street, but he managed to escape to a nearby shop. Shopkeepers who began shouting drove the gunmen away.
As they fled the scene, the assailants fired several shots into the air.
Salafism represents a Sunni Islamic school of thought whose followers argue that Islam was perfect and complete during the days of Prophet Muhammad, but that undesirable innovations have been added due to materialist and cultural influences.
The Salafis, who have become very active in the Gaza Strip in recent months, are totally opposed to common Western concepts like economics, constitutions and political parties. They refer to the 2,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip as Crusaders and have vowed to drive them out of the area.
Hamas denied any involvement in the attack, saying its security forces had launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from the victim.
Christians living in the Gaza Strip told the Post that they were very worried about the increased attacks on members of their community and religious institutions. "The latest incident is aimed at sending a message to all the Christians here that we must leave," said a Christian leader. "Radical Islamic groups are waging a campaign to get rid of us and no one seems to care."