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    » 06/10/2014, 00.00

    ISRAEL - VATICAN

    Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews occupy and drive Christian pilgrims from Upper Room

    Joshua Lapide

    Mob included a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. The possible use of the scared site by Christians has been under discussion for some time. The ultra-Orthodox Jews fear the transfer of rights to the sacred site. Only John Paul II and Pope Francis have been allowed to celebrate a mass in the place of the Last Supper and Pentecost.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A mob of ultra-Orthodox Jews has occupied the Upper Room, the sacred site of the Last Supper, forcing Christian pilgrims who were gathered there for the feast of Pentecost into a small adjacent room while they danced and prayed.

    The incident occurred yesterday afternoon. According to Israeli police sources the group was composed of "about 30" ultra-Orthodox Jews. Moshe Feiglin, a member of parliament in the ranks of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party,  was also among the group.

    The Upper Room, where the Last Supper and Pentecost took place, is a room on the second floor of a building near the area of ​​Mount Zion. Since the twelfth century, it's ground floor  is also believed to be the site of the burial of King David, although many archaeologists and historians doubt this.

    On the last day of his visit to the Holy Land, Pope Francis had permission to celebrate Mass in the Upper Room, together with local bishops and patriarchs.

    The site belongs to the State of Israel, which has banned all Christian churches from  holding liturgies there. Only John Paul II and Pope Francis have been granted this opportunity.

    There had been talk in the past of Israel's signing over the rights of the Status Quo for the Upper Room to the Custody of the Holy Land, which was the original owner of the holy place, before the Ottomans and then the Israelis took it over. 0ffensive and violence graffiti against Christians often appear near the sacred site.

    In the days prior to Pope Francis' visit, groups of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated in Jerusalem and Mount Zion, opposing any attempt sign over the holy place to Christians (see photo). The government has stated that the Upper Room will remain state-owned.

    Also yesterday, the ultra-Orthodox Jews carried placards accusing the government of lying on the status quo of the Upper Room  with them.

    Often Christian pilgrims - paying an entrance fee - also visit the so-called "tomb of King David" on the ground floor, pausing sometimes in prayer. The group of protesters yesterday considers this an act of "blasphemy" and "a provocation." For this they wanted to occupy the sacred site upstairs praying and dancing and driving the Christians out.

     

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    See also

    26/05/2014 VATICAN - HOLY LAND
    Pope: the Upper Room is where the Church set out and went "forth"
    The place reminds us of service, fraternity, sharing, harmony, peace, promise, but also pettiness, curiosity, and betrayal. "This is the most beautiful part of being a Christian and, especially, of being a priest: becoming a friend of the Lord Jesus." He tells priests and religious to "let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but with courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission."

    31/08/2009 ISRAEL
    Jerusalem, clashes between police and ultra-Orthodox Jews, eight officers injured
    Hundreds of protesters attacked the police overnight. Observant Jews protesting against the opening of a car park on the Jewish holy day of rest.

    15/01/2008 ISRAEL
    High Court of Justice slams ultra-Orthodox only bus
    A petition challenges bus lines that segregate women from men to prevent contact forcing the former to sit in the back, requiring them to “dress modestly” and wear only skirts (no pants allowed).

    12/12/2009 ISRAEL
    "Death to Christians": Hebrew graffiti next to Upper Room in Jerusalem
    The graffiti was immediately removed to avoid exacerbating tension between Christians and Jews. Those responsible are probably young Orthodox Jews. In the area of close to the Upper Room many other offences against priests, nuns and holy sites. Doubts about the ability (or willingness) of the State to protect the places of Christendom.

    05/10/2009 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Tension in Jerusalem after clashes at Temple Mount
    Ultra-Orthodox Jewish believers stoned. Yesterday, two incidents of clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli police. Police close mosques to the Muslims under 50 years.



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    Beijing issues new, harsh draft regulations on religious activities

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