Armenian Patriarchate Protests Deportation of Seminarians

BY ARTHUR HAGOPIAN

JERUSALEM—The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem recently lodged a strong protest against a decision by the Israeli Ministry of Interior to deport two seminarians involved in a fight with a young Jewish man who had spat on a religious procession in which they were involved.

The spokesman for the Patriarchate, Father Pakrad Bourjekian, noted that this was not the first time Armenian or Christian clergymen in Jerusalem had faced unprovoked aggression.

The clergy aren’t the only ones singled out, he said. Lay members of the Armenian community who wear or display crosses are also victims of such attacks.

The latest provocation occurred on Sunday evening, Sept. 6, as Armenian seminarians returned to the Convent of St. James after holding their weekly procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As they neared the convent, a young Jew wearing a kipa spat on them.

One of the seminarians accosted the youth, who responded with another blob of spit, leading to a brawl that ended when police arrested two of the Armenian seminarians and held them for 24 hours.

That same evening, the police informed the Armenian Patriarchate that the matter would be dealt with in court the next morning.

At court, however, the Armenians were informed that the police had referred the matter to the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, which had decided to deport the two seminarians, Bourjekian said.

Spitting on Christians, he added, has been occurring for the past several years, and the Ministry and police have failed to take any measures to stop it.

In addition to this “harassment by civilians,” Bourjekian said, the Ministry intentionally delays renewing the visas of Armenian monks and priests who were born in Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan, “causing them undue distress.”

He voiced concern that “this kind of persecution” against the Armenians might escalate to include not only seminarians but priests, bishops, and archbishops as well.

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4 Comments

  1. Hye4Life said:

    If this was the other way around, the major newspapers and media would have covered it on their front pages. What an irony.

  2. Andranik Michaelian said:

    This is nothing new. The exact same thing happened in 1984 when I was in Jerusalem, as Jews spat on our seminarians during a procession from the Armenian Patriarchate to the Holy Sepulcher. Luckily Israeli police stepped in and prevented a possible brawl.

  3. satenik said:

    Yes, if this was the other way round, Jews would be bombarding us with ” anti semite” labels and if a similar incident occured in a Muslim country against Christian mionrity groups, it would have International coverage. So why are the same media paricularly quiet about these ugly racist incidents but quite vociferous on others!

  4. Hovsep Movsessian said:

    I learned about this uncivilized act sometime last year and didn’t know it was going on for a while, honestly I don’t feel comfortable but but solution for this is to do the same thing to their clergy and population in Armenian cities and explain why are we doing it, but at least in Yerevan they can stop them in the street, tell them about what their citizens are doing to our clergy in Jerusalem; and explain how easy for us is to return the favor but then ask them contact their embassy to tell their government to stop that uncivilized and shameful hate act in the Holy Land.

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