Bethlehem Church Fight Erupts Between Armenians and Greek Orthodox
Palestinian policemen had rushed towards the scene to control and break up the fight between both the Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests who have had a long-standing rivalry. This time, the rivalries between each other had erupted in violence during the cleaning. Both sides used brooms and stones within the church as weapons.
The basilica built over the grotto in Bethlehem is jointly administered by three sects of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and the Armenian Apostolic authorities. However, vicious feuds do not look to be uncommon. Anything that can be viewed as an encroachment on any group’s territory can set off feuds that erupt in violence.
Priests and cleaners by the dozens came to the church on Thursday to scrub and sweep the floors, walls, and rafters. This would be ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas which is celebrated the first week of January rather than December. Tourists visited the church this week for the December Christmas celebrations.
The feuding happened with some of the Orthodox priests stepped into the Armenian Church section. At least 50 Greek Orthodox deacons and 30 Armenian priests fought it out.
Palestinian police rushed with batons and shields to separate both sides to continue the cleaning. An Associated Press photographer was then ordered out of the church.
Tags: Bethlehem , Armenian Church , Greek Orthodox , Orthodox
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.