An Alexandria administrative court on Monday banned the controversial annual religious festival moulid of Jewish saint "Abu Hasira" in the Beheira governorate. The court also ordered the removal of the shrine for the revered Jewish rabbi from the Egyptian antiquities and monuments list.
The administrative court also ordered the government to publish this in the state’s official journal and to inform UNESCO of the decision.
The shrine of Abu Hasira and the Jewish cemetery next to it were registered as a monument according to the culture minister decision in January 2001.
The court also rejected a request by Tel Aviv to transfer the remains of the Jewish rabbi to Israel as it violates Islamic teachings prohibiting the exhumation of graves.
The court revealed in its debriefing that Israel requested from UNESCO to transfer the body of the revered Rabbi to east Jerusalem was another attempt to “Hebrewise” the city.
An unnamed official in Egypt's antiquities ministry told Reuters' Aswat Masriya that the ministry has not yet informed of the ruling by the court.
The only authority in Egypt officially authorised to strip a cite of its classification as a monument is the technical permanent committee within the antiquities ministry, the official added.
The official added that if the ruling violated Egypt’s antiquities protection law, the ministry would appeal it.
Dr. Mohamed Fawzy, the head of Islamic and Coptic antiquities sector in the antiquities ministry told Ahram Online that unlike what the Shrine of Abu Hasira was not officially registered as an official Jewish monument in Egypt in the first place.
This is not the first time the administrative court has banned the annual festival of Abu Hasira. In 2001 the Alexandria administrative court also cancelled the celebrations. The celebrations were again cancelled in 2012 by Egyptian authorities who cited political instability.
The pilgrimmage of Jews to the annual celebration of the birth of the Moroccan rabbi who is believed to have died in the Egyptian village of Damatiuh during the 1880s has often caused civil unrest in the village spurred by locals who refuse to normalise relations with Israel.
The local community in Damatiuh also maintains that the Jewish rabbi is not buried in Egypt and was actually buried in Morocco.
The administrative court added thet the 2001 ministry of culture decision was invalid, historically inaccurate and negatively affects the Egyptian heritage.