Unrest overshadows Mideast Easter

Published April 24th, 2011 - 13:59 GMT

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Jerusalem: Roman Catholic clergymen hold crosses as they circle around the Stone of Anointing during the Holy Thursday ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city.
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Image 1 of 15: Jerusalem: Roman Catholic clergymen hold crosses as they circle around the Stone of Anointing during the Holy Thursday ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city.

Palestine’s Palm Sunday: Christian Orthodox pilgrims attend a baptism ritual in the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho, part of their Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
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Image 1 of 15: Palestine’s Palm Sunday: Christian Orthodox pilgrims attend a baptism ritual in the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho, part of their Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Jerusalem prevails: in spite of hardship on Good Friday for pilgrims who were hassled by Israeli security, Armenian, Greek, Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Christians from all over the world participated since early Saturday in celebrations in the streets of the Old City.
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Image 1 of 15: Jerusalem prevails: in spite of hardship on Good Friday for pilgrims who were hassled by Israeli security, Armenian, Greek, Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Christians from all over the world participated since early Saturday in celebrations in the streets of the Old City.

Bethlehem’s Bishop: The head of the Greek Orthodox church in Bethlehem holds the 'Holy Fire' brought from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the 'Holy Fire' ceremony on the eve of the Orthodox Easter in Bethlehem.
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Image 1 of 15: Bethlehem’s Bishop: The head of the Greek Orthodox church in Bethlehem holds the 'Holy Fire' brought from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the 'Holy Fire' ceremony on the eve of the Orthodox Easter in Bethlehem.

Jerusalem the week before His crucifixion, when a cheering crowd greeted Him waving palm leaves.
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Image 1 of 15: Jerusalem the week before His crucifixion, when a cheering crowd greeted Him waving palm leaves.

Jesus at Jenin: Palestinian Christians carry a statue of Jesus Christ during the Good Friday procession in the West Bank village of Zababdi.
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Image 1 of 15: Jesus at Jenin: Palestinian Christians carry a statue of Jesus Christ during the Good Friday procession in the West Bank village of Zababdi.

Holy tomb at Jerusalem: Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III begins the ceremony inside the Holy Sepulchre, the place where Christians believe Jesus was buried.
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Image 1 of 15: Holy tomb at Jerusalem: Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III begins the ceremony inside the Holy Sepulchre, the place where Christians believe Jesus was buried.

Jerusalem: Christian Orthodox priests and nuns carry palm tree branches during the Palm Sunday procession from Mt. Olives to Jerusalem's Old City.
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Image 1 of 15: Jerusalem: Christian Orthodox priests and nuns carry palm tree branches during the Palm Sunday procession from Mt. Olives to Jerusalem's Old City.

TV, Digital Pope: Pope Benedict ventured where no pope has gone before on Good Friday when he answered questions on an Italian television program. During which session, he also appealed for calm and dialogue in Libya.
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Image 1 of 15: TV, Digital Pope: Pope Benedict ventured where no pope has gone before on Good Friday when he answered questions on an Italian television program. During which session, he also appealed for calm and dialogue in Libya.

Coptic Suffering: In the lead up to Easter, there was a “million man” Muslim march in southern Egypt to protest the election of a Christian governor, and Christian homes were burnt-  echoes to Christmas Church attacks.
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Image 1 of 15: Coptic Suffering: In the lead up to Easter, there was a “million man” Muslim march in southern Egypt to protest the election of a Christian governor, and Christian homes were burnt- echoes to Christmas Church attacks.

In Iraq, Muslims mark the Christian celebrations for Easter in a show of respect and communal spirit, a far cry from the sectarian violence we’ve seen in recent times.
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Image 1 of 15: In Iraq, Muslims mark the Christian celebrations for Easter in a show of respect and communal spirit, a far cry from the sectarian violence we’ve seen in recent times.

Syria's subdued celebrations in climate of unrest and fear still manage some cheering: A Christian Syrian woman holds her son as he lights a candle in Damascus while a cheering crowd waves palm leaves.
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Image 1 of 15: Syria's subdued celebrations in climate of unrest and fear still manage some cheering: A Christian Syrian woman holds her son as he lights a candle in Damascus while a cheering crowd waves palm leaves.

Lebanon: with egg hunts and thoughts of forming a government after Easter, it was business as usual at Easter in Byblos.
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Image 1 of 15: Lebanon: with egg hunts and thoughts of forming a government after Easter, it was business as usual at Easter in Byblos.

Libya: Christian residents in the country gather to take refuge in Easter solemnities. A Christian Catholic priest kisses the crucified statue of Jesus during Good Friday service.
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Image 1 of 15: Libya: Christian residents in the country gather to take refuge in Easter solemnities. A Christian Catholic priest kisses the crucified statue of Jesus during Good Friday service.

Sudan: Last Easter in United Sudan, having lost many of the congregation to the south.
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Image 1 of 15: Sudan: Last Easter in United Sudan, having lost many of the congregation to the south.

In the Arab World, the most solemn week in the Christian calendar was matched by the sobriety of celebrations snatched during political upheaval and bloodshed.

With revolutions getting bloodier, religion has taken a backseat, somewhat sidelined, for Arabs during this political turmoil, only remembered as a battle cry or appeal for preservation of life.

Nevertheless, Easter time for the Christian Arab communities, who are often minorities at home, has been a reprieve from the suffering in the region this year: taking time out to recall the suffering of Christ, amidst suffering at home today. Taking a break from images of Gaddafi’s butchery and Saleh’s slaughter, Christian Arabs marked the Holy week culminating in Easter Sunday, 24th 2011.

However, in some regions that  particularly peaked in unrest during this holy week, celebrations have had to be ‘foresaken’ somewhat for current needs on the ground during this emergency period.

 

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