“It was a trivial problem that… occurs every year”

Just your average family gathering at Christmas, with a bit of an argument about the seating cleaning arrangements…

Scuffles have broken out between rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics over a turf war in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

Bemused tourists looked on as about 100 priests fought with brooms while cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, on 7 January.

Palestinian police armed with batons and shields broke up the clashes.

Groups of priests have clashed before in the church, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born.

“It was a trivial problem that… occurs every year,” Bethlehem police Lt-Col Khaled al-Tamimi told Reuters.

“No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God,” he said.

For more on the rivalries between the various supernaturalists at similar sites in the area, I’d recommend Simon Sebag Montefiore’s three part BBC 4 series Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City, based on his book Jerusalem: The Biography.

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