Egyptian court permanently bans Jewish festival on 'moral' grounds

Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:40am EST
 
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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court permanently banned a Jewish celebration that has taken place since the 1979 peace deal with Israel and asked the government to remove the tomb where it takes place from a list of official shrines, judicial sources said on Monday.

The court said its decision was due to "moral offences" committed in previous years at the three-day festival celebrating the birth of Rabbi Jacob Abu Hasira. It did not elaborate on what the offences were.

Jews, mostly from outside Egypt, have congregated every year at the 19th century tomb around Jan. 1 even though the festival was canceled for security reasons after the 2011 uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

Monday's ruling would make the ban permanent unless a higher court overturns it on appeal.

The court called for the government to reverse the 2001 recognition of the festival by state tourism officials and to remove the tomb in Egypt's Nile Delta region of Buheira from a list of recognized shrines.

Local residents have previously complained of the disruptive security presence that comes with the festival.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Shadi Bushra; Editing by Louise Ireland)