Recent reports from the Israeli government and news media say the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and Muslim extremists are targeting Arab Christians for discrimination and persecution.

Yet a group of Christian leaders who completed an inquiry into religious persecution in the West Bank and Gaza say the charges are false, representing an attempt to sow division among Christians and Muslims who live in PA-controlled areas.

Uri Mor, director of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs in the Department for Christian Communities, is adamant that Muslims are persecuting Christians. "It's a matter of fact," he says. To document the reports of persecution, Israeli television in May ran a special on Muslim persecution of Christians.

Two Christian Zionist organizations in Jerusalem have backed up Mor's assessment. Clarence Wagner, president of Bridges for Peace, says the PA is largely responsible for growing persecution, primarily targeted at Christian converts from Islam.

A recent article in Middle East Digest, a publication of the International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem (ICEJ), tells about Muslim converts to Christianity who have been persecuted for their faith and are frightened to return home under PA rule. The article quotes Yassir Arafat's legal adviser Ziad abu Ziad as saying Muslims who publicly convert and refuse to return to Islam violate their religion and are at risk of execution. Representatives from ICEJ say that the PA, as a Muslim government, has ordered the execution of converts to Christianity. But no such executions are known to have occurred.

AMERICANS INVESTIGATE: In May, a group of Americans, associated with Open Doors with Brother Andrew and Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), toured the West ...

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