An Egyptian court has permanently banned the three-day festival celebrating the birth of Rabbi Jacob Abu Hasira in Egypt’s Nile Delta region of Buheira. The judge cited unspecified “moral offenses” as the reason for the ban. It is the latest example of Egypt’s devolution from a secular to a sectarian legal system. While the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohammed Morsi were ousted in 2013 after pushing the country toward an Islamic, sharia-based system, the country still has seen the steady erosion of secular values and the separation of religion and state.
Jews have come to Egypt to the 19th century tomb to celebrate the Rabbi’s birth since 1979 when the peace deal with Israel permitted such exchanges.
Notably, the court not only banned the celebration for immorality but 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. That sounds more like a religious than a legal decision by an anti-Semitic judge.
The Rabbi was actually born in Morocco but, in 1879, he left on a pilgrimage to Israel via Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. While passing through the Egyptian Nile Delta city of Damanhour, he grew ill and died.
Of course, the same Muslims celebrating this prejudiced decision would be outraged by any limitation placed on an Islamic shrine or celebration. The decision is a troubling example of how Egypt continues to struggle not only with the concept of freedom of religion but also with the basic principles of a professional and fair legal system.
Source: Al Arabiya