Friday, June 03, 2011

Egyptian villagers vow to ban Jewish pilgrimage

Pilgrims flock to the Jewish shrine of Abu Hatseira every December

If , as the Egyptian Gazette reports, the good citizens of Damito manage to bring about the ban on the December Jewish pilgrimage to the tomb of rabbi Abu Hatseira, it will be a sign that the Arab Spring is encouraging more bigotry, not less. More evidence that the inhabitants of the Egyptian village hosting this important Jewish shrine are not against Jews, just Zionists (sarcasm off).

"After the January 25 revolution, which toppled over the Hosni Mubarak regime, the Jews will not be allowed to enter Demito any more and endanger the public morals and hurt the feelings of its 5,000 residents," Moustafa Rasslan, a lawyer, said.

He called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been ruling the country since February 11, to enforce a 2001 court ruling that compelled the Culture Ministry, responsible for the site where the annual gathering takes place in late December and early January, to cancel the Abu Hasira celebrations all together.

"If the SCAF does not enforce the ruling, Damito residents will not allow the Jews come to their village to attend the week-long Abu Hasira Mulid (festival), where they used to behave in a way that contradicts Islamic traditions and public morals under the very nose of security officials of the ousted regime," he said.

The court ruling reflects what the village residents and Egyptians feel about this celebration, that started after the signing of the Camp David Accord in 1978.

Since then, the Egyptians have been questioning the validity of this event arguing that the Jews had never held the Abu Hasira festival in Demito before they left the country after Israel State was founded in 1948 .

"Jews didn't hold a festival at this site when they were in Egypt. It's just after the normalisation of ties between Egypt and Israel under the rule of ex-President Mubarak, the residents said.
Despite the court ruling, thousands of Sephardi Jews have been keen to attend the festival during which Egyptian security forces block all roads leading to Damito.

Security is always tight because of anti-Israeli sentiment in the wake of the current wave of violence in the Palestinian territories .

Although Damito residents insist that they have nothing against Jews , they insist that the Jews and Israelis should feel ashamed of themselves to visit their village while they are oppressing the Palestinians.

A female resident said that the Jews drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, to be blessed as part of their veneration of the rabbi.

"The Jewish visitors usually get drunk and engage in obscene dancing during the celebrations," the woman, who asked not to be identified, said, demanding that the Abu Hasira festival should be cancelled after the revolution and the deposing of Mubarak, whom she dismissed as Israel's friend.

The villagers also complain that the authorities close down their shops and services for the Jewish festival, which reaches its highest point with an auction of the key to Abu Hasira's shrine.

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