Egyptian Court Bans Rabbi Abu Hatsera Festival

Rabbi Abu Hatsera gravesite

An Egyptian court Monday banned an annual festival of a Jewish rabbi in a Nile Delta village, a judicial source said, the latest in a series of rulings against the event, Gulf News reported.

The decision by the Administrative Court in Alexandria was in response to a lawsuit filed by a lawyer, who said that the eight-day celebration of Moroccan rabbi Abu Hatsera’s birthday violates local traditions.

According to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Abu Hatsera is Yaakov ben Masood, a rabbi of Moroccan origin who immigrated to Egypt. His shrine is often visited every year by hundreds of Jews from Morocco, France and Israel.

The court said the rituals practiced at the celebration violate “public order and morals, ” according to the source.

Hundreds of pilgrims from Israel and other countries flock to the Egyptian Delta village of Demito every January, to mark the death of the 19th rabbi buried there.

Angry locals say the visitors drink alcohol, dance and slaughter animals at the tomb of the saint.

Back in 2010, Egyptian police caught a terrorist team that was planning to blow up the rabbi’s gravesite. And in 2012, the then ruling Muslim Brothers, threatened that Jews visiting the site would be committing suicide.

On Monday, the court also revoked a 2001 decision by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, listing the tomb and its surroundings as heritage sites, the source said. The judge also ruled that the remains of Abu Hasira shall not be transferred to Israel.

Two years ago, Israel requested from Egypt – through the UNESCO – the transfer of Abu Hasria’s remains to Jerusalem.

Security measures were heightened during Monday’s court session, which saw a heavy presence from the media and the civil society.

There was no immediate government comment.

In 2001 and 2004, two Egyptian courts banned the festival, but were ignored by the government.

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