Fight At Jesus Birthplace Armed with brooms (rival priests)
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Uploaded on Dec 28, 2011
Rival Clerics In Brawl At Jesus' Birthplace
A fight has broken out at the church built on the spot where Jesus is said to have been born.
Up to 100 Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic priests and monks swinging brooms clashed inside the Church of Nativity today in Bethlehem in a frenzied turf battle, the Associated Press reports.
Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics share the administration of the church, whick oftens leads to jurisdictional disputes.
The fighting broke out during cleaning of the West Bank church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, as each side jealously guards its territory.
Palestinian police, using batons and shields, were called in to break up the fighting inside the basilica.
"It was a trivial problem that ... occurs every year," police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi tells Reuters. "Everything is all right and things have returned to normal.
He tells the news agency that there were no arrests "because all those involved were men of God."
Palestinian police stormed the basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem after rival groups of Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed in a row over the boundaries of their respective ancient jurisdictions inside the church.
Armed with brooms, around 100 priests and monks came to blows during the cleaning of the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas celebrations.
The former Palestinian minister of tourism and head of the Palestinian forces in Bethlehem were slightly injured.
Administration of the church is shared by Catholic, Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic clerics.
The relationship between these groups has often been difficult, and there have been similar scuffles in previous years over jurisdiction.
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