"The history of the Holy Places is one long litany of bitter animosities and contentions," a British official wrote of Jerusalem in 1929. Those animosities again broke out in violence in late July. While headlines told of the latest violence between Palestinians and Israelis, Ethiopian and Coptic Christians came to blows when one of the Copts moved his chair on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which commemorates Jesus' resurrection. "Each sect has specific rights to specific areas of the church, and should those rights be violated by the other sects, tensions mount, and tempers flare," explains Doug Dicks, a Jerusalem-based Presbyterian mission worker and member of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding. The Copt claims the Ethiopians "poked him and brought some women who came behind him and pinched him." At least 11 monks—seven Ethiopians and four Copts—were hospitalized. "They are trying to force us out," an Ethiopian monk explained to Reuters. "They want to kill us. What have we done that God is punishing us like this?"

Related Elsewhere

Christian History Corner discussed tensions over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in July.

The Holy Sepulchre commemorative website and the Jewish Virtual Library have more information and links about the church, the area, and its history.

Related articles include:

Sepulcher's guardians won't bury old jealousies—Associated Press (March 25, 1999)
Church of the Holy Sepulcher a beehive of activity—Associated Press (April 9, 1998)
Where Have They Laid My Lord?Christianity Today (March 3, 1997)

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