Christians protest at desecration of churches in Israel

Christians in Jerusalem have staged an impromptu demonstration to protest against the desecration of churches in Israel by groups of extremist Jewish settlers.

“It was a spontaneous demonstration to denounce the repeated attacks against holy places carried out by an irresponsible minority, that threatens the peaceful coexistence among peoples,” said Bishop William Shomali, vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Since February last year, militant groups have attacked Christian churches, monasteries, and cemeteries, as well as Islamic mosques.

The most recent attack was aimed at the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where tombstones were damaged and racist graffiti written on the walls.

Some of the damaged graves belong to famous figures from the 19th and 20th centuries, a key period in Jerusalem’s history. Among them are a German diplomat, the founder of an orphanage who was a significant contributor to modernising the city, and a relative of the owners of a prominent hotel.

More than 100 Christians took part in the demonstration, which went from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre to Catholic and Protestant cemeteries which had been vandalised.

The participants sang and recited prayers along the way, spreading a statement in which they denounced acts of intimidation against monasteries, cemeteries, churches and mosques.

High-profile Christian sites that have been vandalised within the past year include the Trappist monastery at Latrun, outside Jerusalem, where vandals burned a door and spray-painted “Jesus is a monkey” on the century-old building, a Baptist church in Jerusalem, and other monasteries.

Christian clergymen often speak of being spat at by ultra-Orthodox religious students while walking around Jerusalem’s Old City.

Over the past three years, 17 Christian sites in the Holy Land have been reported vandalised, apparently by militant extremist groups close to the Jewish settler movement.

But Search for Common Ground, a nongovernmental group that monitors press reports of attacks on religious sites, says the number is actually higher, but Christian leaders choose not to report many attacks.


Associated Press


Image: Fox News

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