Thursday, May 22, 2008

More pilgrims to Djerba expected this year

The annual Lag' La'omer celebrations in Djerba at the historic El-Ghriba synagogue, Africa's oldest, are expected to attract more visitors than ever this year, AFP reports:


DJERBA, Tunisia (AFP) — Jews from around the world arrived on the Tunisian island of Djerba on Wednesday for an annual pilgrimage to Africa's oldest synagogue, with organisers expecting a significant jump in participants.

"Visitors have been arriving by the hundreds since Sunday to take advantage of a longer stay on the island, and there will be about 6,000 for the big day," organiser Perez Trabelsi said of Thursday's events at the Ghriba shrine.

They arrived amid heavy security, however, with authorities seeking to prevent an attack similar to the one carried out by a suicide bomber at the site in 2002 that killed 21 people.

Police set up barricades, while an electronic gate filtered visitors entering the area around the sacred site, believed to be 2,500 years old.

The total number of pilgrims in Djerba, which is popular with tourists, is expected to be 40 percent higher than last year, including a record 1,500 from Israel, said Trabelsi. The number of visitors dropped sharply after the 2002 attack.

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Israeli and Tunisian singers in Djerba

Reuters report

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