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Welby condemns ‘blasphemous’ attack on Christian graves in Jerusalem

04 January 2023


The Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, inspects a vandalised tombstone in the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday

The Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, inspects a vandalised tombstone in the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has joined other faith leaders in condemning as “a blasphemous act” the desecration of graves in an historic graveyard close to the Old Wall of Jerusalem.

More than 30 graves were damaged at the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion on Sunday. Crosses were broken and headstones and icons were smashed to the ground.

Archbishop Welby said on Wednesday: “The desecration of Christian graves in Jerusalem is a blasphemous act. I join the Chief Rabbi and religious leaders in Jerusalem in condemning it and hope those responsible will be brought swiftly to justice.

“As we continue to pray for peace in the Holy Land, I stand with Archbishop Hosam Naoum and other Jerusalem church leaders in calling for respect, protection, equality and justice for its Christian community — who are the Living Stones of the Church.”

Security camera footage has been released of two young men carrying out the attack. Their headwear and clothing are those of religious Jews. The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, wrote on Twitter: “This shameful vandalism is a disgraceful desecration for which I hope the perpetrators will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, speaking from the graveyard on Wednesday, said that hate speech and hate crimes in the region were on the rise, including spitting at Christians and attacks on holy sites.

Christian population increases in Israel. The Christian population of Israel grew slightly in 2021, Israeli officials have said. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported last week that the Christian population had grown by two per cent, and constituted 1.9 per cent of the total in Israel. Three-quarters of Israeli Christians were Arabs. Most lived in Nazareth (21,100) and Haifa (16,700). There were 12,900 in Jerusalem. The average household size for Christians was 3.06 people, similar to that of Jewish families, but smaller than Muslim households, which average 4.46 people.

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