” We are the Church of the Arabs, and because the Arab world is Muslim in its great majority, this means that we are the Church of Islam. It is not easy to understand but it’s beautiful”
These are the words of His Eminence Lufti Laham to define the position of the Arab Christians in Jerusalem and the ensuing complexity of the different Churches operating in the Holy city, currently torn apart between Muslims and Jews. A plural and minority Christianity, officially divided into thirteen different groups and officiously into forty-two denominations embodying, in an area of about one square kilometer, the outrageous scandal of disunity and an extraordinary cultural richness.
As is emphasized by Armenian Albert Aghasian, one of the heads of the Palestinian university of Bir Zeit, ” Jerusalem is like a mother with too many children and it is only natural that they fight against one another to be closer to her “. But, if Jerusalem, birthplace of the Gospel, sets the problem of the sources, of the link with the biblical legacy and the insurpassability of the figure of Jesus, the Holy city is far from being only a historical conservatory. It remains more than ever a place plagued by contradictions and confrontations. The various Christian communities fight over its control while having to face the equally strong claims of Islam and Judaism. This quest for origins ¬ between stones and writings and their archeology, amidst the colourful presence of the various Churches, the folklore of religious pilgrimages, the political stakes and the daily fights appears indissolubly linked to the search for a future identity capable of taking on the complexity of its past, a past where the shadows of the crusades and of the Shoa are as important as the burdensomeness of intestine divisions.
The opinions and testimonies of diverse intellectual figures and Jewish and Muslim religious personalities, from Rabbi Steinsaltz to the great Mufti of Al Aqsa, from Professor Baumgarten to Dr Abu Sway, will give this fourth film its full range and meaning and help us reach the prospective aim of our series on ” Cities of God ” : What if, beyond the signs of an apparent decline, Christianity was already creating the forms of a possible rebirth ?
« Une mosaïque de témoignages éclairants sur la complexité des Eglises chrétiennes présentes dans la Ville sainte, berceau des trois religions monothéistes et théâtre de nombreux confits, politique, culturel et religieux. »
Télé 7 jours
Best Documentary, Film Festival News and History (Rueil-Malmaison, 2002)