Page 2, 21st April 1995

21st April 1995
Page 2
Page 2, 21st April 1995 — 'Muslim holds key to Jerusalem's finest

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Locations: Jerusalem


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'Muslim holds key to Jerusalem's finest

THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, in Jerusalem, is the traditional site of Jesus' death and resurrection. Armenian, Catholic and Greek Christians worship there, unsurprisingly, but what is a surprise is the fact that the church is guarded by Muslims, who hold the keys.

The gatekeeper is Mr Wajeed Nusscibeh, whose job it is to open the door and let the procession of Christians in. The Nusseibeh family was given the keys when Jerusalem was taken from the Byzantines in 638, and later shared with the Judeh family at the

request of Saladin, "to impose peace between the denominations and to keep an eye on the church," according to Abdel-Kudar Judeh, the present custodian. Mr Nusseibeh explained, "If the Greeks or the Latins had the key, it would create a prob lem... It 's simpler to give it to a Muslim, who is neutral." History exemplifies this in 1901, monks were injured in a fight between Greeks and Latins over the right to sweep a step on a staircase. Nobody has been brave enough to change the status quo since.

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