Egypt Bans Annual Festival Honoring Moroccan Rabbi

Ali Abdelatti
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Jewish pilgrims at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira in Egypt, December 1999.Credit: AP / Archive
Ali Abdelatti

An Egyptian court permanently banned a Jewish celebration that has taken place since the 1979 peace deal with Israel and asked the government to remove the tomb where it takes place from a list of official shrines, judicial sources said on Monday.

The court said its decision was due to "moral offenses" committed in previous years at the three-day festival celebrating the birth of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira. It did not elaborate on what the offenses were.

The annual festival has in the past drawn hundreds of religious pilgrims each year around January 1, mostly Jews from Israel, Morocco and France. The festival was canceled for security reasons after the 2011 uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

Monday's ruling would make the ban permanent unless a higher court overturns it on appeal.

The court called for the government to reverse the 2001 recognition of the festival by state tourism officials and to remove the tomb in Egypt's Nile Delta region of Buheira from a list of recognized shrines.

Local residents have previously complained of the disruptive security presence that comes with the festival. 

AP contributed to the report.

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