04:05 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Worshippers kneel and pray in front of the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, February 25, 2018

    Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre Closes to Protest Taxes

    © REUTERS / Amir Cohen
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    Christian sects in Jerusalem administering the Jerusalem Temple of the Holy Sepulchre closed the shrine on Sunday in protest against the plans of the city authorities to levy a municipal tax on them, according to the brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre.

    The Christian leaders call it a violation of the "status quo" by the mayor; municipal law requires them to pay city taxes on all real estate, except for the churches themselves. The city government has already begun arresting accounts, demanding a penalty for previous years.

    "A systematic and unprecedented attack on Christians in the Holy Land violates the most basic, ab antiquo (leading its history since ancient times) and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of the relationship between the Christian community and local authorities. Therefore… as a measure of protest, we decided on an unprecedented step of closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," the statement said. It was signed by the Greek Orthodox and Armenian patriarchs of Jerusalem as well as the Catholic custody of the Holy Land.

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    Organizers have not said yet when the temple will open. Initially, it was assumed that the protest would last only one hour.

    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is co-managed by several Christian denominations. According to Christian tradition, it is built above the site of the crucifixion and Christ's vacant tomb; it is considered one of the holiest sites in Christianity.

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    tax, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Israel, Jerusalem
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