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10 Controversial Religious Sites

Religious tensions can often be a contributing factor in disputes and conflicts around the world; pointless, I have to say. Many of the deepest and most long-running conflicts have a religious component to them, such as the Israel-Palestine issue or tensions between India and Pakistan, adn the list could go on. But why should my beliefs affect your life?

The same goes with religious sites, of significant importance for various people. The controversial nature of the sites contained on this list almost never remain purely on the religious level, as it happens with people; things tend to get carried away and events escalade quickly. Why? Because we want everyone to believe the same thing we do, while still remaining free. Does that sound odd?

Here are following list contains 10 of the most controversial religious sites from around the world!

10. Park 51

Park 51

The religious part of the plans for the Park 51 construction became so controversial that the project was abandoned before it was built. Park 51 refers to the planned replacement of an 1850s building close to the site of the World Trade Center. The building was damaged in the September 11 attacks and has been scheduled to be replaced ever since. The plan originally included a prayer area for Muslims, but a museum is now to be constructed there, instead.

9. Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine

Built in the mid to late 19th century, the shrine was designed as a sacred place to intern the souls of Japanese soldiers who fell during wars. Ultimately, it became the place where some of the country’s war dead from conflicts from the 1850s to 1945, were buried. The controversial part arises from the fact that over 1000 class A war criminals from World War II are buried there.

8. Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Located in Lhasa, Tibet, the palace is the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama and a significant religious site for Buddhists. The current Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 to escape persecution by the Chinese authorities. The palace has since been taken over by the state and converted into a museum.

7. Buddhas Of Bamiyan

Buddhas Of Bamiyan

The two Buddha statues located northwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul were remarkable examples of 6th century art, having been carved out of sandstone and constructed using mud and wood. In March 2001, the extremist Taliban government in Afghanistan ordered the statues to be dynamited, causing their utter destruction. Financial aid has been pledged to rebuild the structures.

6. The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre

The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre

The site has become a place of high controversy between different Christian denominations, not only for its historic significance for the religion, but because of the complex arrangements currently in place to ensure that each group with a desire to have a presence there can gain access to the church. The church is said to be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, and is believed by orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics, to be the place of his resurrection.

5. The Western Wall

The Western Wall

The wall is located at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and is considered by Jews to be the remnants of a wall of an ancient temple. It has become a place of prayer and reflection for Jews, with the belief that messages left at the wall are communicated directly with God. Access to the wall has increased tensions between Jewish and Muslim communities, due to the close proximity to the Al Aqsa mosque and the fact that Muslims also consider the area to be important.

4. Harmandir Sahib

Harmandir Sahib

The Golden Temple is one of the most important in the Sikh religion. In the 1980s, activities around the temple led the Indian government to launch a raid on it, in an attempt to capture armed separatists calling for an independent Sikh state. The result was the deaths of hundreds of worshipers, and although the official total is around 400, some Sikh groups put the figure much higher.

3. Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

This temple has been at the heart of a border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, provoking a series of fatal clashes over the years. Cambodia claims sovereignty over the temple and the region around it, a position that Thailand rejects. Cambodia was successful in 2008, in having the temple recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO, but Thailand has continued to oppose this ruling.

2. Ayodhya Faizabad District

Ayodhya Faizabad District

Ayodhya has been a site of controversy between Hindus and Muslims for many years. Hindu religious groups claim that in the 16th century, a temple was torn down in order to build the Babri mosque on a site that they also consider to be the birthplace of Rama, an important figure in the Hindu religion. In 1992, the Babri mosque was destroyed in a mob riot.

1. Temple Mount

Temple Mount

Arguably the most contested site in the world, the mount in Jerusalem has played a central role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over recent decades. Jewish groups maintain that the place is the site of King Solomon’s temple, which is believed to have been first built around 1000 BCE. For the Palestinians, it is the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam since its construction in the 7th century.

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