Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday

Thousands of Christian pilgrims took part in processions along the route where according to tradition Jesus Christ carried the cross on his last day before his crucifixion. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2019
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Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday

  • The faithful carried wooden crosses on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s holiest days
  • This year’s confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover has led to a festive atmosphere in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.
The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s most solemn and sacred days.
The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover this year led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.
Worshippers from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobblestone path that cuts through the Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixion. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’ story.
The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before his resurrection on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.
Meanwhile Friday, Jewish residents were rushing to complete their preparations for the ritual Seder dinner as the first night of Passover approached. In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, a tumult of shoppers swarmed the stalls, filling their bags with ingredients for the holiday feast. Many observant Jews cleaned their homes of “chametz,” or leavened wheat, traditionally forbidden during the eight days of Passover to commemorate the Jews’ flight from slavery in Egypt, which, the story goes, didn’t allow time for dough to rise into bread. In religious neighborhoods, controlled fires of burning chametz lit up sidewalks.
In the Old City, Israeli police said they detained 10 Jewish suspects with “intentions to cause public disturbances” by smuggling goats into Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site for a ritual sacrifice. Police said they seized the goats and are questioning the suspects.
The site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam. Although Israel seized the holy plateau along with the rest of east Jerusalem in 1967, Muslim custodianship of the compound and a ban on Jewish prayer has long prevailed.
Such incidents occur every year ahead of Passover as zealots attempt to re-enact ancient animal sacrifices in the spot where the biblical Jewish Temple once stood.


Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

Updated 48 min 19 sec ago
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Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

  • The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year
  • Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs
BEIRUT: Slowing capital inflows to Lebanon and weaker deposit growth increase the risk of a government response that will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default, Moody’s Investors Service said.
This was despite fiscal consolidation measures included in the draft 2019 budget that is being debated in parliament, Moody’s said in a June 25 credit analysis.
Asked about the report, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday “matters are under control.”
The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year, with Lebanese leaders warning the country faces financial crisis without reform.
Lebanon’s public debt is 150 percent of GDP, among the largest in the world. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt-servicing costs and subsidies for power.
The Moody’s report said: “Despite the inclusion of fiscal consolidation measures in the draft 2019 budget, slowing capital inflows and weaker deposit growth increase the risk that the government’s response will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default under our definition.”
Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs, chiefly the state budget deficit and the current account deficit of an economy that imports heavily and exports little by comparison.