Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem Complain of Denied Access to Religious Sites; Discrimination

The Christians institutions and denominations in occupied East Jerusalem are complaining about denial of access to the Church of the Holy Sepulture and its vicinity during Easter Holidays, and to Sabt El-Nour celebrations  in particular- the day that precedes Easter Sunday. 
 
The Christians are describing the harassment as discriminatory, racist, and targets the Holy season.  The mobility of worshipers inside the Old City of Jerusalem gets restricted, and checkpoints are put at the Gates and in the alleys- thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulture, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.
 
The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city. 
 
The measures taken by the occupying power have been escalating in recent years, and are meant to deny Christian and Moslem presence in East Jerusalem.  Due to such measures the faithful are unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends during such a special occasion.   The restrictions began first in 2005, and are in fact unnecessary; politically and racially motivated.
 
The Christians of East Jerusalem note the futility of attempts during previous years to coordinate with the police of the occupying power, more so because the restrictions violate basic human rights and freedom of faith.
 
The celebrations in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Christian Quarter have been conducted according to local traditions and heritage that date back to hundreds of years.  None of the successive powers that ruled Jerusalem considered tampering with the traditional celebrations and local heritage.  The violence against the Christian worshipers is meant to deter them from attending the ceremonies in future years and thus to foster the image of Jerusalem as exclusively Jewish.
 
The Christians of occupied East Jerusalem are calling upon their own faithful not to be deterred by the harassment and to attend the celebrations in large numbers.
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