Monday, February 22, 2010

Cairo synagogue attack does not alarm local Jews

Israelis residing in Cairo, as well as members of the small Jewish community seem unperturbed by Sunday's attack on the main downtown synagogue in the Egyptian capital, according to Ynet News.

In the attack, a man hurled a suitcase containing a makeshift bomb made of gasoline canisters at the synagogue. There were no reports of injury or damage."We are not particularly alarmed by what happened; the synagogue is open to the public and anyone can visit," said Gabi Rosenbaum, director of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo.

He said daily prayer sessions are not routinely held in the attacked synagogue, but added that "events are held there during the holidays."

Despite the attack, Rosenbaum said he does plan on taking any special precautionary measures. "We are going about our business as usual. I am careful wherever I am in the world; in Cairo it is recommended to be careful on the road," he said.

Rosenbaum said he had no additional information on Sunday's attack. "The synagogue is usually empty because Egypt's Jewish community is so small; it consists of several dozen people in Cairo and Alexandria," he told Ynet.

However, Ynet reported last month that people who had visited the Academic Center in Cairo were harassed by Egyptian authorities and even warned not to come in contact with Israelis.

"I looked at him, alarmed, and asked if I had done anything wrong. He said he only wanted to ask a few questions and began asking me why I visited the center, who I met there, what I think about Israel and what do the Israelis write about Egypt in their newspapers," the student recalled.

Hussein Baker, 20, a fourth-year Hebrew student at Menoufia University who visited the center, said he was approached by a man who presented himself as Staff Sergeant Hossam of the state's security service.

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Egypt 'not the most friendly' to Jews: Israel today