|Jews praying at the tomb of Yaakov Abuhatzeira before the ban by Egypt|
From Egypt Today:
Israeli Ambassador to Egypt David Govrin visited the tomb of Yaakov Abuhatzeira in the Beheira governorate’s city of Damanhour, a security source in Beheira said on Tuesday.
The Israeli ambassador’s visit came amid tight security, and then he left the tomb after 30 minutes, heading to the embassy’s premises.
In December 2014, the Administrative Court of Alexandria banned the annual festivities, previously attended by hundreds of Jews at Abuhatzeira’s gravesite in the Nile Delta city of Damanhur, where the rabbi was buried in 1879 en route to Israel.
Times of Israel reported in 2015 about Egypt’s ban on the celebrations of Rabbi Abuhatzeira’s birthday:
In December 2010, the last time a large group of 550 Israelis traveled to Egypt, they were met with signs reading “death to the Jews.”
Egypt’s Nasserist party launched a campaign titled “You shall not pass on my land,” calling on the government to disallow any “Zionist” presence in Egypt.
Reports at the time about the Egyptian court case to ban the celebrations noted that the decision mentioned “outraged local sensibilities over the annual festival, saying villagers objected to the mingling of men and women and celebrants’ drinking of alcohol.”
Egypt’s Al Masry al-Youm notes with sadness that the Egyptian court only banned the marking the anniversary of Rabbi Abuhatzeira’s birth (which usually falls in January), so they legally couldn’t do anything to prevent Govrin’s visit.
However, the Al Masry al-Youm article adds some details about the Alexandria court decision that had never been reported in English before:
Among its considerations in the verdict, the court mentioned that the Jews had no influence that is worth mentioning on Egyptian civilization/culture, and they have not contributed at all to human knowledge of the history of civilization/culture.
This isn’t a judicial determination of facts. This is raw antisemitism in an official Egyptian court ruling.
Moreover, the court ruling overturned a 2001 Egyptian decision to consider the site a protected Egyptian antiquity and instructed the state to inform UNESCO not to consider the site to be special any more.
In addition, it said that it is forbidden to move the rabbi’s remains to Israel.
At the time of the decision in 2014, human rights groups in Egypt were notably silent about the obvious antisemitism around the verdict.
A number of heads of Egyptian human rights organizations and others concerned with religious freedoms refused to comment on the verdict, requesting time to consider it and examine the extent of its contradiction in regard to the religious freedoms of the Jewish comunity in Egypt. Article 64 of the 2014 Egyptian Constitution covers the freedom to hold religious rites.
Some human rights groups have remained silent about the verdict because of social and cultural pressures. Their silence is to prevent the new government from possibly being accused of favoring Israel or allowing the entry of Israeli tourists into Egypt under the pretext of celebrating Abu Hasira’s birth should their objection to the court decision force the executive to overturn the ruling.
Ali el-Samman, president of the International Union for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue and Peace Education (ADIC), told Al-Monitor, “Everyone is required to respect the judicial verdict and not to comment on it.”
It isn’t that human rights organizations don’t believe that Jews have human rights. It’s just that, by sheer coincidence, in any case where they might be asserted, any Jewish human rights must always take a back seat to some other more important considerations – like the Jew-hating attitudes of the locals and the political situation that makes the topic of Jews touchy.
(h/t Ibn Boutros and Abdallah Mashaallah)
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