16 March 2008

First Catholic Church in Qatar

The first Catholic church, Our Lady of the Rosary, has opened its doors in Qatar, but lacks any external signs of being a church.
"The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha," wrote Lahdan bin Issa al-Muhanada, a leading columnist in Doha's Al-Arab newspaper.

But Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, the former dean of the Islamic law school at Qatar University, disagrees. He wrote that having "places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam."...

In Doha, the call to build a Catholic church has grown as waves of migrant workers from South Asia and the Philippines arrived in the Gulf, answering the call for cheap labor to fuel the region's runaway economy.

But the Christian immigrants have sometimes collided with the native Qatari population, which practices Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam.

Native Qataris account for only 200,000 of the country's population of 900,000.

The Vatican estimates there are 100,000 practicing Catholics in Qatar. They attended underground services until seven years ago, when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the country's current ruler, granted permission to five denominations to open churches.
I'm old enough to remember when new Protestant churches in Franco's Spain were prohibited from displaying the usual church architecture, opening schools, or evangelizing in public.

Nowadays there's a big shortage of mosques in Spain.

via Belmont Club

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