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article imagePriests in Bethlehem come to blows in battle of the brooms

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By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 28, 2011 in Religion
Bethlehem - The annual Christmas clean-up of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem descended into a broom-fighting brawl between priests.
In a scene more reminiscent of pantomime performance than religious peace, rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests fought with broomsticks inside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. Up to 100 priests were involved in the fighting.
AFP reported "For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods ." None of the priests was seriously injured in the fighting.
Problems regularly break out between the two groups as they argue over who should be responsible for maintaining the upkeep of the Church. The 1,700-year-old Church is one of the holiest sites in Christendom. Pictures of the fight provide great hilarity to other religious groups and amused tourists who were visiting the site.
According to the BBC, Lt-Col Khaled al-Tamimi of the Bethlehem police, said "It was a trivial problem that... occurs every year. No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God."
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