Fight breaks out between Monks at Christian holy site
USA Today reports Sunday from Jerusalem that Israeli police had to rush into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday to arrest two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.
According to the article, the clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is revered as the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
The fight began as Armenian clergymen marched in an annual procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.
The article reports that, "It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead."
Both monks were taken away in handcuffs.
The six Christian sects that divide control of the ancient church regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police are occasionally forced to intervene.
The feud revolves around a demand by the Greek Orthodox to post a monk inside the Edicule — the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus — during the Armenian procession. The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way.
"We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have," said a young Greek Orthodox monk with a cut next to his left eye.
The article states that after the brawl, the church was crowded with Israeli police holding assault rifles and equipped with riot gear.
The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher, and there is likely to be disputes similar to this in the future.