Muslim Keyholder of Church of Holy Sepulchre Opens it for Easter Pilgrims

On Good Friday in Jerusalem, religious cooperation among Christians, Muslims and Jews is on display. The key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is turned by a Muslim family, the Nuseibehs, and another Muslim family, named Judeh, stores the key overnight. Christian authorities overseeing the church, held to have been built on the site of Jesus’ empty tomb, annually renew their plea to the Nusseibehs to continue to be keyholders.

Given the intense competition among the various Christian denominations in Jerusalem for control of the holy sites, the Muslims as neutral outsiders function to help keep the peace. The church is the site of the final two stages on the via dolorosa for those pilgrims who follow in Jesus’s footsteps. It is also where a ceremony takes place commemorating the rolling away of the stone sealing Jesus’s tomb.

Reuters has video:

Russia Today has more on this year’s via dolorosa commemoration:

This spirit of being a positive part of each others’ religious lives has been common among people of different religions in the Middle East, and the survival of these amicable traditions offsets the politicization of religion that has marked the past century.

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  1. When I was in Jerusalem in 1956 the leader of the parade of worshipers was a tall man dressed in an Ottoman police uniform, which was still a symbol of control.

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