Monks brawl at reputed site of Jesus's tomb

Israeli police burst into one of Christianity's holiest churches yesterday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus's tomb.

The clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, revered as the site of Jesus's crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It began as Armenian clergymen marched in a procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.

It ended with riot police separating the sides. They arrested an Armenian monk and a Greek Orthodox monk with a gash on his forehead. Six Christian sects control of the ancient church, fighting over influence. The feud revolved around a demand by the Greek Orthodox group to post a monk inside the Edicule – the ancient structure built on what is believed to be Jesus's tomb – during the Armenian procession.

The Armenians refused and when they tried to march, the Greek monks blocked their way. Father Pakrat of the Armenian Patriarchate said the Greeks attacked first. Archbishop Aristarchos of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate denied this and said: "I'm sorry that these events happened in front of the most holy religious monument of Christianity."

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