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Nazareth: Trouble in Jesus' Hometown
December 22, 1999

Map
There is a town in Israel called Nazareth. You might have heard of it. It is mentioned in the Bible and in the Koran. It is where Jesus grew up, which was almost 2,000 years ago! So it is really, really old.

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Modern-day Nazareth is gearing up for millenium festivities!
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The town is still around today. But lately, there has been a lot of trouble there. You see, there are two groups of people who live in Nazareth, Muslims and Christians. Each group makes up about 50% of the population. Unfortunately, they just can't seem to get along.

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The Basilica of the Annunciation is Nazareth's biggest attraction.
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The problem is with this piece of land that is next to a big church called, the Basilica of the Annunciation. Don't let the name scare you away. It is just a fancy way of saying it is a church built in the spot where the Angel Gabriel came down to talk to Mary, Jesus' mom. This church is one of the most important places for Christians. Every year lots of people go there to visit and pray.

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for larger view
An outside door at the Basilica.
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Right next door is another holy place, but this one is for Muslims. It is important too, but the most important holy places for Muslims are in other cities. But the Muslims in the town have decided to build a giant mosque there.

The Christians are very upset about this. They are afraid if there is a big mosque right next door, that nobody will notice the church anymore. They think the Muslims are trying to show off by building such a big mosque.

Vocabulary Box

basilica - an old-fashioned church
mosque - a place for Muslims to go to pray
But the Muslims are upset too. The land really belongs to them and they think they should be able to build anything they want on it. They think the Christians are being mean. Their feelings have been hurt because the Christians don't want them around.
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This beautiful mosaic was donated to the Basilica by Japan.
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I think that everyone is being silly about this. Did you know that both Christians and Muslims believe in Jesus and his teachings? One of the things he tried to teach people is how to get along. It's too bad the people from Jesus' hometown haven't learned how to do this.

Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

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