The body of Rami Khader Ayyad, the 32-year-old director of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, bore a visible gunshot wound to the head, and an official at Gaza's Shifa Hospital said he was also stabbed numerous times. Ayyad had been missing since Saturday afternoon.
Ayyad regularly received anonymous death threats from angry people who accused him of missionary work, a rarity among Gaza's Christians. His store, which is associated with a Christian group called the Palestinian Bible Society, was firebombed in April.
"We feel Rami was killed for his Christian faith," said Simon Azazian, a spokesman at the Bible Society's head office in Jerusalem.
About 3,200 Christians live in Gaza among 1.4 million Muslims, and the Christian community has grown uneasy since Hamas routed forces of the secular Fatah movement and seized control of the coastal strip in June. During the takeover, vandals ransacked a Roman Catholic convent and an adjacent school, breaking crosses and smashing the face of a ceramic Jesus.
Ayyad had been increasingly worried about threats on his store, Azazian said.
On Friday, he noticed that he was being followed by a car with no license plates. Ayyad called his family Saturday afternoon to tell them he had been abducted but would be freed later in the evening, said Azazian. Police were notified, but his body was found the next morning.
Ayyad left two young children and a pregnant wife.
This is what we are up against. We are up against an enemy that will kill innocent men for the simple crime of being a Christian, and selling Christian books. And don't be so comfortable in your life that you think it can't happen here. Many in positions of power are eager to convince this country to bow down at the feet of Islam, rather than fight it.
Don't let anybody sell you that whole "Islam is a religion of peace" nonsense. The goal of Islam is for the whole world to bow to Allah. They will fight until "religion [is] only for Allah." (Sura 2:193). They will "then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)" (Sura 9:5). Because, according to the Hadith, "[A] martyr’s privileges are guaranteed by Allah; forgiveness with the first gush of his blood...he will be...[married] to seventy-two [virgins] and his intercession on the behalf of seventy of his relatives will be accepted." What better way to convince young men to kill and maim than to promise them eternal sex? Yet some people try to claim that this is the same God we Christians worship. Baloney!