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Holy sites: Places apart

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    The Economist (UK) /28 August 2008 http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12010 063 Holy sites: Places apart ... When an army
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12 8:21 AM
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      The Economist (UK) /28 August 2008
      http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12010
      063

      Holy sites: Places apart

      >> A plan to turn sites of conflict into beacons of peace

      When an army wants to dishearten a defeated foe, few things are
      more effective than desecrating his holiest shrines. And when a
      demagogue or warlord wants to make peaceful folk take up arms,
      nothing works better than telling them that their faith's holiest site
      needs reclaiming.

      And in modern times, fighting over holy places-from India to
      Jerusalem to the Balkans-seems almost as common as it was in
      the Middle Ages. During the Bosnian war, over 3,000 religious
      buildings were destroyed or damaged, including Catholic and
      Orthodox churches, and above all mosques. In Kosovo, the
      minority Serbs say scores of Orthodox churches or monasteries
      have been wrecked by ethnic-Albanian nationalists.

      But holy places, even those that are claimed by more than one
      religion, are not always a source of conflict; there are plenty of
      cases where a shared holy place has led to a bond between people
      of different faiths who have divergent beliefs about the site but still
      rub along.

      Hence a plan that was unveiled in Norway this summer to establish
      a code of conduct for holy sites on which all governments could
      agree. The code would protect the right of one or more
      communities to worship at a sacred site; the right of tourists to visit
      such sites as long as worship is respected; and the right of
      individuals and groups to manifest their faith at holy places. "We
      want to turn these locations into places of prayer and
      reconciliation," says Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former Norwegian
      prime minister who is also a Lutheran minister and now heads the
      non-profit Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

      Partners in the sacred sites project include Muslims, Jews and
      Christians from the "holy land" as well as people from all over the
      Balkans. It may take a year to hammer out the details of the
      code-a twinkling of an eye when set against the centuries of war
      over places.

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