Holy places as a focus of religious friction

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.
Perhaps the most notable wars concerned with holy places were the crusades in the Middle Ages against the Turks. In the 19th century European powers, notably Russia and France, struggled for the prestige of supporting Jerusalem and other holy cities against the Turks.

Arabs refer to the Jerusalem holy site as Haram al-Sharif, which is Arabic for "Noble Sanctuary." Israelis refer to it as Har HaBayit, which is Hebrew for "Temple Mount." The Haram al-Sharif houses the third holiest of all Islamic sites, the Dome of the Rock. Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven from a slab of stone -- the "Rock of Foundation"-- located in the center of what is now the Dome of the Rock. In addition, when Arab armies conquered Jerusalem in 638 A.D., the Caliph Omar built the al-Aqsa Mosque facing the Dome of the Rock. The Western (or Wailing) Wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple that the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D., stands at the western base of the Temple Mount. The Western Wall has long been a favorite pilgrimage site for Jews, and religious men and women pray there on a daily basis. The Temple Mount is revered by Jews as the site upon which the first and second Jewish Temples stood.

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.

(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems