Differences in religious belief have been an underlying factor in many world conflicts, but for Pythonesque entertainment value, you really can’t beat the current row between the Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Their latest scuffle was over whether a Greek Orthodox monk should be allowed inside the Edicule (a structure built on the alleged site of the resurrection) during an Armenian procession. This religious disagreement ended up with the Israeli riot police armed with assault rifles filling the church, 2 monks in handcuffs and one Greek Orthodox monk with a cut next to his left eye caused, he says, by an Armenian monk who pushed him from behind and broke his glasses.
That’s not the first time they’ve fought however, in April they were at it again, this time on Palm Sunday after a monk was accused of spending too long at the shrine. Perhaps predictably, that event ended up with the riot police being beaten back with palm fronds.
Apparently there’s been a ladder on a ledge over the entrance to the church which has been there since the 19th Century since no-one can agree who has the authority to take it down and attempts to add a fire exit have met with inevitable deadlock about where it should be located.
The keys to the church have been held by two Muslim families since 1178 in an attempt to keep the peace, but it sounds to me like the People’s Front of Judea are still alive and well in Jerusalem. Splitters!