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The sacred site in civil space: meaning and status of the temple mount/al-Haram al-Sharif

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The tension between the sacred and the civil unfolds on myriad levels in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The purpose of this paper is threefold: first, to sketch the evolution of the tension between the sacred and the civil in the modernisation process of the Middle East and in the birth of Israel in particular; second, to point out the limitations and ultimate failure of both governmental and peace-building approaches that ignore the paradoxical nature of this opposition; and third, to attempt to find an alternative, phenomenological approach to religious space. The analysis is organised around four nested spheres: the Middle East in general, the Holy Land, Jerusalem and, finally, the Temple Mount/al Haram al-Sharif at the centre. Though the Temple Mount/al-Haram al Sharif is not a simple illustration among others, it constitutes the most powerful and comprehensive symbol of the forces at work in the constitution of religious space.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: International Institute for Peace Research, Oslo (PRIO) Centre for Development and the Environment University of Oslo (SUM)

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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