Feb. 28 (UPI) — The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel reopened Wednesday following three days of protest against tax and property bills targeting religious sites.
The church on the believed site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection in Jerusalem opened its doors again after Israel’s government froze a bill that would allow church property to be claimed by the state and Jerusalem’s municipality agreed to postpone the collection of taxes from church-owned properties.
Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Church leaders closed the church’s doors after Jerusalem’s municipality announced plans to modify a tax exemption in order to collect $186 million in unpaid taxes from church assets including restaurants and hotels, which don’t serve as places of worship.
They also were protesting a “discriminatory and racist bill” which would allow church property to be claimed by the state.
“This is a victory. We’re celebrating. Easter is coming and so there were hundreds of visitors who had to pray outside the church for three days,” the church’s custodian of the keys Adeeb Joudeh told Al Jazeera. “There’s a general feeling of happiness now that prayers inside the church have resumed – it was a beautiful site to see.”