Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Those peaceful Christians

Fight. Fight. Fight. Went the cry around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Grauniad reports
Fistfights broke out yesterday between Christians gathered on the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ.
"There was lots of hitting going on. Police were hit, monks were hit ... there were people with bloodied faces," said a witness in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, reputed to be Golgotha where Christ was crucified, and the site of the tomb where he was buried.

The punch-up erupted during a procession to mark the discovery in 327 by Helena, mother of Constantine, of the True Cross.

A Greek Orthodox cleric said Franciscans had left open their chapel door in what was taken as disrespect. Priests and worshippers hit one another at the doorway dividing Orthodox and Franciscans, said a police spokesman.

The Telegraph says
Eleven monks were treated in hospital after a fight broke out for control of the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the traditional site of Jesus's crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

An Ethiopian monk nurses his bruises after the clash
The fracas involved monks from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the Coptic church of Egypt, who have been vying for control of the rooftop for centuries.

The fight erupted over the position of a chair used by an Egyptian monk near the entrance to the roof.

He sits there to assert the Copts' claim to the rooftop, which is mainly occupied by a few African-style huts which the Ethiopians, who have been evicted from the main church over the centuries, use as their monastery.

On a hot day, the Egyptian monk decided to move his chair out of the sun. This was seen by the Ethiopians as violating the "status quo" in the church, set out in a 1757 document which defines the ownership of every chapel, lamp and flagstone.

After several days of rising tension, the fists began to fly on Sunday. The Egyptians said their monk was teased and poked and, in a final insult, pinched by a woman.

Does that final "pinched by a woman" say more about the misogynistic nature of much religion or about the Telegraph? But this piece just says it all about the divisive nature of religion.

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