Monks Hit the Roof in Holy Stoushhttp://www.addistribune.com/Archives/2002/08/02-08-02/Monks.htm
Eleven monks were treated in hospital after a fight broke out for
control of the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the
traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
The fracas involved monks from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the
Coptic church of Egypt, who have been vying for control of the
Jerusalem rooftop for centuries. It is not the first time monks have
come to blows at Christendom's most holy place, but it is one of the
most serious fights in recent times.
As black-clad monks threw stones and iron bars at each other, the
Israeli police were called to restore order. Seven Ethiopian monks
and four Egyptians were hurt. One of the Ethiopians was reported to
be unconscious in hospital.
The fight erupted over the position of a chair used by an Egyptian
monk near the entrance to the roof.
He sits there to assert the Copts' claim to the rooftop, which is
mainly occupied by a few African-style huts which the Ethiopians, who
have been evicted from the main church over the centuries, use as
On a hot day, the Egyptian monk decided to move his chair out of the
sun. The Ethiopians saw this as violating the "status quo", set out
in a 1757 document which defines ownership of each chapel, lamp and
After several days of rising tension, the fists began to fly on
Sunday. The Egyptians said their monk was teased and poked and, in a
final insult, pinched by a woman.
On Monday there was a silent stand-off on the roof, with the
Ethiopians defending their property with a row of chairs.
The church is a cockpit of rivalry between Christian sects and, in
the words of one historian, the "most unchristian place in the
world". It is shared among six denominations, with the more powerful
ones ruthlessly taking advantage of any weakness by their rivals.
(The Sydney morning Herald)