Sunday, April 20, 2008

Byzantine Pilgrims Terrorize Jerusalem Police With Palm Fronds

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Israeli police rushed into Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre to break up fist fights between dozens of Greek and Armenian worshippers on Orthodox Palm Sunday, witnesses said.

Some 20 officers intervened after Armenian worshippers threw a Greek Orthodox priest out of the church, sparking a free-for-all, they said.

Several worshippers then started beating the police officers with palm fronds they were holding for the Palm Sunday celebrations that mark the return of Jesus to the Holy City a week before he was crucified.

After the incident, dozens of members of Jerusalem's Armenian community marched from the church to the Old City's police headquarters in protest at the detention of two Armenians.

Brawls are not uncommon at the church, which is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards part of site -- considered one of the holiest in Christianity.

Precisely in order to prevent such disturbances, two Muslim families have been entrusted for the past 800 years with opening and closing the gates of the church, a cavernous labyrinth of chapels and crypts built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday according to a different calendar from Catholics and other Christians in the west, who marked the day on March 16.

Tens of thousands of Orthodox worshippers from across the world packed the streets of the Old City for the celebration.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli police. Breitbart.com

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