In Jerusalem, Muslim keeps key to Jesus’ tomb

Centuries ago, the imposing iron key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, was entrusted to his family, one of Jerusalem’s most prominent clans, says Joudeh. He dates the arrangement back to the time of Saladin, the Muslim conqueror who seized the holy city from the Crusaders in 1187. “Honestly, it’s a great honour for a Muslim to hold the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the most important church in Christendom,” Joudeh, 53, said. Another of the city’s oldest Muslim families, the Nusseibehs, were entrusted with the duty of opening and closing the church doors, a task they perform to this day. It requires firm fingers: The key is 30 cm (12 inches) long and weighs 250 grams (0.5 pounds).
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