Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jerusalem - the city of peace witnessing political unrest

Jerusalem, which should have been 'The City of Peace' by Christian theology, witnessed merely bloodshed, migrations and political conflicts in the name of religions. A holy place, where three major religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) enjoyed their supremacy has been destroyed twice, attacked 52 times, and captured 44 times. Unfortunately, each time, reasons behind such destruction were either religious or political.

Summarizing 6000 years of religiously stressful history of the city is as difficult as counting stars. For more than 400 years, Jerusalem was the center of piece until Babylonian conquest, which brought city Destruction of Jews’ first temple. After Alexander's rule, Romans didn't either left the city in religious peace. Roman Emperor Hadrian banned the Jews from Jerusalem on pain of death. This ban continued for centuries, causing Jews nothing, but the pain of staying away from their own homeland. In 1099, Fatimid ruler expelled the native Christian population, which led city drinking human blood with massacre of the 4000 Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.

Jerusalem has 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within modern confines

With the annexation of Jerusalem by Egypt in 1831, many Egyptian Muslims remained in Jerusalem. In 1948, when Muslim dominated Jordan took control of the entire holy places, Jews experienced ban on access to Jewish holy sites one more time. With the feeling of revenge, the Jewish Cemetery was desecrated along with significant buildings being demolished. In 1967, Israel Defense Force captured Eastern part of the city. To make East Jerusalem more Jewish and prevent it from becoming part of an urban Palestinian, Jewish neighborhoods were built within East Jerusalem.

Today, the status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues in political history. Currently, the world has rejected the annexation of the city to Israel, calling it a place with no country. A city that was once surrounded by forests of almond, olive and pine trees in biblical times is today suffering from water supply issues. Political leaders seem to have less concern about the quality of life in the city rather than causing religious unrest.

Since Islamic leaders claim that Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem, and old Western Wall was constructed as part of a mosque, Palestinian Authority claims it to be future Palestinian state capital. Today, the percentage of Jews in the city's population had been decreasing, thanks to a higher Muslim birth rate. Palestinian officials have encouraged Arabs to stay in the city to maintain their claim. When would people of Jerusalem see a sunrise that has no smell of hostility? Only God must have an answer for that question.

A city, which has been sacred to Judaism for 3000 years, to Christianity for 2000 years, and to Islam for 1400 years, seems to have lost its charm in political conflicts and communal violence. Jerusalem, which embraced Jesus and Mohammad in its land, too, deserves to experience peaceful religious coexistence. I am sure; I am not the only one who wish to see Jerusalem, celebrating religious diversity.

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