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World in brief: Clergy, worshippers fight at Jerusalem shrine

MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008

Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity’s holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl.

The fight came amid growing rivalry over religious rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site in Jerusalem where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected.

It erupted when Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.

When police intervened, some worshippers hit them with the palm fronds they were holding for the religious holiday.

Two Armenian worshippers who attacked the Greek Orthodox clergy were briefly detained by Israeli police. Scores of Armenian supporters then protested outside the police station during the questioning of the two, beating drums and chanting.


Assad says peace talks possible

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday he has exchanged messages with Israel through a third party to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks, the country’s official news agency reported.

During a meeting with ruling Baath Party officials, Assad commented on media reports about indirect contact between the two countries.

“There are efforts exerted in this direction,” he was quoted as saying.

An Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on Thursday quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying Israel and Syria have been exchanging messages to clarify expectations for any future peace treaty. He did not disclose the content of the messages or provide details.

The paper quoted Olmert as saying, “They know what we want from them, and I know full well what they want from us.”

Assad echoed those comments on Sunday, saying Israel “knows well what is accepted and not accepted by Syria.”


Succession law ‘a load of rubbish’

The British government wants to abolish an 18th-century succession law that requires the daughter of a monarch to make way for her younger brother, a Sunday newspaper reported.

Solicitor General Vera Baird was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying the 1701 law giving male heirs the right to succeed to the throne ahead of any older sisters was unfair and “a load of rubbish.”

Officials at the solicitor general’s office were not immediately available for comment.

The government is expected to use new equality legislation to guarantee women’s succession rights, the Times report said.

Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne only because she had no brothers.

When the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was born, she was third in line to the throne, behind her mother – then Princess Elizabeth – and her brother Prince Charles.

As her brothers Andrew and Edward were born, Anne dropped down the line of succession, where she is currently 10th.

The report says Baird also wants to repeal the law banning the heir to the throne from marrying a Catholic.


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