Thursday, May 14, 2009

Calm returns for annual Djerba pilgrimage

Islamist intimidation at the local yeshiva (exposed on Point of No Return) had led to calls for a boycott of the event last year, but calm seems to have returned to the island of Djerba this week, when the annual pilgrimage to the al-Ghriba synagogue took place without incident. From Mid-East Online:

DJERBA - Thousands of Jews completed an annual pilgrimage to Africa's oldest synagogue held amid tight security on the Tunisian island of Djerba Tuesday.

Roughly 1,000 Jews living in Tunisia joined 5,000 others from around the world including 500 Israelis during the two-day festival at the Ghriba shrine.

It's even better than last year," said event organiser Perez Trabelsi, the president of the Jewish community in Djerba.

After Israel's three-week war on Gaza that ended on January 18, authorities imposed heavy security measures to prevent an attack similar to the one carried out by a suicide bomber at the site in 2002 that killed 21 people. The Jewish community in Tunisia is still one of the largest in the Arab world but its numbers have dropped from 100,000 on independence from France in 1956 to around 1,500 today. Most emigrated to France or Israel. Nearly half of those who remain live in Djerba.

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