God's Politics

God's Politics

A Christian Voice of ‘Laughter, Love, and Peace’ Murdered in Gaza (by Philip Rizk)

The last time I saw Rami, we were at the beach near Gaza City. A group of us were in the water and I was trying to force Rami underwater. Rami was a big man, weighing at least twice what I do. Needless to say, I did not manage to get him to budge. When he in turn came after me, all I could do to protect myself from suffocating under him was flee. Eventually I was able to sneak up on him under water, pull his legs out from under him, and escape again.

There are around 3,000 Christians living in Gaza today. Rami was the office director of the Teacher’s Bookstore, a Christian bookstore in downtown Gaza City. The store sells Christian books and offers computer and language lessons, which are attended by Palestinians from across the Gaza Strip. When I would visit the place, Rami was always there on his swivel chair cracking jokes. Few people entered that did not already know him. Gaza can be a place of sadness, and Rami always reminded me much more of the mentality of Egyptians – laughing and joking no matter how depressing life becomes.

On Saturday afternoon, Rami closed his shop as he always did at 4:30 p.m. He had told his brother that three days earlier he had sensed he was being followed home after work, but had not made much of it. Two hours after closing up, he called his wife and told her with much uncertainty that he hoped to be home in two hours and not to worry. He was not able to say where he was or why he was there. Rami never came home. Friends and family searched for him until late into the night. At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, his body was found beaten, a bullet through his head, another through his chest. His wallet, ID, and watch were gone.

No one has made any statements, no group has taken responsibility. This is the first time in Gaza’s recent history that a Christian has been kidnapped and killed. Sadly, such incidents do occur in revenge killings – usually of political nature – but never with religious causes. In Gaza, Muslims and Christians live and die side by side, sharing every element of the Israeli occupation – a reality for as long as most Gazans alive today can remember. Rami had no political or factional involvement, nor was his family implicated in any feuds. Rami’s boss was quoted in The Independent saying, “We don’t know who was behind the killing or why. Was it for money, or was it because he was selling Bibles?”

Gaza is a place overrun with violence. Readers of this blog have followed the complexities of the makeup of Gaza’s social and political makeup, I will not repeat again what I have so often said before. Violence here has deep roots in injustice and occupation, but beyond this, every individual, every political grouping, and every community makes the choice of projecting their experience outward and returning violence for violence. In Gaza, victims of bloodshed often themselves become shedders of blood.

Rami experienced the harshness of occupation, the limitation of curfews, Israeli military incursions, civilian targeted sonic booms, restrictions on travel beyond the 365 square kilometer confines of the Gaza Strip, and the strife of civil war. Rami chose to respond to violence with laughter, love, and peace. The strength to live such a life is what I hope for Rami’s killers. It is what I hope for every Palestinian living and born into the living hell of Gaza today.

Philip Rizk is an Egyptian-German Christian who lived and worked in Gaza from 2005-2007. He blogs at:

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posted October 10, 2007 at 10:51 am

Maybe this shows my ignorance (it’s not the first time), but can people living in Gaza not leave to go to any other country? I was under the impression that they just weren’t allowed into Israel. Can they not go to Egypt either or any other country?

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posted October 10, 2007 at 10:55 am

May his memory be eternal!

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posted October 10, 2007 at 11:26 am

Good man.
It’s good to hear about him. He sounds like a man who built things that were eternal. I ask God blesses all who hear of him.

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Mike Grello

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I am not sure if they can abandon their homes, become seperated from their family and leave their lives behind to adopt the impoverished life of a refugee in a neighboring land already groaning with a steady influx of refugees.
I’m not sure this is a better solution than just being treated with dignity, even if it is possible.

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N.M. Rod

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Anybody who is under the misapprehension that in this brave new world we’ve made that anyone can just leave their own country anytime they want hasn’t traveled much lately. Even in the U.S.A., you now need permission to go to even visit neighboring countries. There is no longer the informal travel that we had for centuries until very recently.
Gaza’s not a country – it’s more of a concentration camp enclave, with travel controlled by the surrounding political power which considers it a grave security risk to allow any travel by the denizens therein, assuming they could even get permission to go to any other country from any other country.

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posted October 10, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Rami Ayyad had a great testimony. Let’s pray that this is not the beginning of violent persecution of Christians in Gaza. Let’s also pray that Rami’s testimony will bring others to Christ.

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posted October 10, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Anybody who is under the misapprehension that in this brave new world we’ve made that anyone can just leave their own country anytime they want hasn’t traveled much lately
Have you been to a Home Depot in California lately ?

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posted October 10, 2007 at 11:16 pm

It’s just a blessing to read about someone like this. I’m sure that this man touched many lives in a deep way.

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posted October 11, 2007 at 12:25 am

God, have mercy!

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posted October 11, 2007 at 4:25 am

Anybody who is under the misapprehension that in this brave new world we’ve made that anyone can just leave their own country anytime they want hasn’t traveled much lately. Even in the U.S.A., you now need permission to go to even visit neighboring countries.
What are you talking about ? People travel into Iraq and out all the time . From Saudia Arabia , from Iran . They bring in bombs , American Forces are ven buying bombs because they pay more then the terroists do . Lets try to use a little common sense before we speak about issues we are uneducated about . We have how many millions of people here we have no clue of ? South America , Central America, Africa , come on .

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posted October 11, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for telling his story. Keep up the good work. I really needed to read about this.

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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm

People might manage to cross borders illegally, but for the law-abiding, it’s much more difficult to do so legally. In many cases, it can’t be done legally at all anymore, regardless of the humanitarian cost.
Refugees cannot get exit or entry papers. These folks now number in the millions.
It serves someone’s purposes to keep them subjected and often suffering.
If you mean U.S. military or contractor forces, well, yes, those folks need no permission from any government save the one that issues their orders, to enter or exit any nation’s borders.
I have to admit I’m chagrined by the immediate response of derision and even latent hatred expressed for pointing out the reality of this. Much of this ill-will seems aimed at maintaining the status quo of controlling others in favor of their own agendas and ideologies, regardless of the truth.
I truly hope that all people will come to love their neighbors, who all too often they now see profitably as their enemies. I say “all people” because as time goes on I now see that my fellow Christians are all too often incorrigibly heart-hearted and compassion cannot be depended upon to come from them.

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posted October 11, 2007 at 8:39 pm

Not everything is about politics. I suppose all yall think this man would be alive today if it wasn’t for the Jews.

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Brenda Waters

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm

In response to one of the first questioners: yes, Christians are allowed to leave Gaza IF they’re willing to give up everything – their families, their home, their way of life. And once they leave, the chance that the Israeli government will let them return is slim to none. I was in Israel-Palestine with a group in January 2007, and one of the things we learned from the Christians still in residence there is how willing the Israeli government is to have Christians leave. And because of this, the Christian population in the area has shrunken to almost nothing. Some of these Christian families could trace their roots back for hundreds of years, so the question is: don’t people like this and people like Rami and his family have a right to stay in their homeland?
May God give his family comfort.

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