Cairo Airport prepares for Israeli pilgrims

Ahram Arabic Portal, Sunday 26 Dec 2010

Israelis attending the moulid of a Moroccan rabbi puts the airport on alert

Cairo International Airport announced on Sunday it was implementing emergency measures as hundreds of Israelis arrive to mark the annual moulid of Abu Hasira.

A 19th-century Moroccan Jewish rabbi, Abu Hasira's mausoleum is located in the village of Damatiuh, outside the delta city of Damanhour, where he died while travelling to Jerusalem in the 1880s.

Three flights from Tel Aviv arrived in Cairo today carrying 550 Israeli passengers. They were transferred to Abu Hasira's tomb by a secure convey. More Jewish pilgrims are expected to attend the eight day festival.

The moulid and the presence of Israelis have provoked indignation and legal action. Residents of the area are opposed to Israelis celebrating in their midst with some going as far as stating that the tomb should be transferred to Israel.

In 2001, the Alexandria Supreme Administrative Court, in response to a suit brought by a group of lawyers, cancelled the festival and revoked the Ministry of Culture's designation of the tomb as a tourist site.

The government did not acknowledge the court's ruling and the festival has continued to be marked by pilgrims.

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