Problem

Holy places as a focus of religious friction

Nature:
Holy places may cause the bitterest of religious friction if two or more religions converge on the same place. This may lead to military occupation, political annexation, territorial disputes and sacrilege. It may be a pretext for war.
Incidence:
One of the most prominent current examples of where holy places can cause religious friction is Jerusalem, where three religions converge: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Jewish excavations near the Masjid Sakwa (Dome of the Rock) and the Masjid Al-Agsa outraged Arabs and Muslims, the building of a Jordanian hotel on some of the most ancient Jewish graves pre-1967 caused bitterness among Jews. The situation was inflamed at one stage when a Christian youth set fire to the Masjid Al-Agsa. Jewish extremists constantly threaten to destroy the Dome of the Rock building in order to build a temple there. Many Muslim youth have lost their lives as a consequence.

In India in 1993 the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya was followed by riots. During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Serbs have deliberately sought to eliminate any trace of mosques as part of the process of ethnic cleansing. Once the mosque has been destroyed, many of them centuries old, the land if replanted with fresh trees. In 1994 over 40 Muslim worshippers were shot in the back whilst at prayer during Ramadan by a single Jewish extremist at the Ibrahim Mosque located at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Some 200 others were wounded, notably in the riots that followed. From an Islamic perspective this is considered an act of the greatest infamy. Access to the Tomb was guarded by Israeli soldiers. The shrine is revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians; Jews also pray there on a regular basis.

Related Problems:
Iconoclasm
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
16.11.1999 – 00:00 CET