April 20, 2008 / 4:36 PM / 10 years ago

Christians fist fight at Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A scuffle broke out at the traditional site of Jesus’ burial on Sunday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian believers, who fiercely protect their hold over sections of the shrine, traded blows.

Police said a fist-fight broke out after Armenian worshippers yanked a Greek Orthodox cleric away from a tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

A spokesman said he did know the precise cause of the scuffle. Fights are not uncommon among the representatives of Christian sects who jealously guard their rights to parts of the centuries-old church.

“There is always tension there between the different sides,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “That’s why police were on scene ahead of time to prevent any arguments or disturbances from breaking out.”

No injuries were reported but two Armenians were briefly detained.

Worshippers had gathered at the church in the Old City for Orthodox Palm Sunday, when eastern churches celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. Western churches celebrated Palm Sunday and Easter last month.

About 100 Armenians gathered at a Jerusalem police station to protest the detention of the two men but were later dispersed.

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