The pictures above are from around the Via Dolarosa. This is one of the most ancient of Christian pilgrimage routes following the way that Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha. The road runs through the city’s Muslim Quarter although pilgrims who follow it might never know that. Today our Muslim guide (Dr Mustafa Abu Sway, Professor at al-Aqsa Mosque and at al-Quds University) took us into the side streets that criss cross the Via Dolarosa in which he had grown up. There he unpacked a story of being pushed into the margins even within his own sector of the city by a Christian community that owns the most prominent property and takes over the main street.
A Christian procession carrying a cross pressed all other users of the street to the side as they passed by only to be pressed to the side themselves as a car then drove up the road.
The side streets are covered with much graffiti. Two green triangular pennants painted on a wall are a sign marking and celebrating a successful Hajj. Muslim notions of pilgrimage clearly contend with those of Christians in the same way that Islamic calls to prayer through loudspeakers compete with the singing of pilgrims in the streets and church bells ringing.
Whose home is this? The answer is not altogether clear.
Again, just off the Via Dolorosa is the Centre for Israeli Studies. The Barbed wire and the shadow it casts on a concrete wall outside this centre before the gold of the Dome on the Rock is a familiar image of communities contending for space with one another. There is a lot of barbed wire in Jerusalem.
Roman Catholic members of the Franciscan Order contend in another way. The Mace Bearers at the front of the procession hammer their staffs on the ground as they clear the crowds for friars on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I hadn’t realised quite how fast they were moving and nearly ended up under their feet as I took their photograph.