A diplomatic source has confirmed that two months ago Egypt informed Israel that the moulid (an annual religious festival to mark the birthday of a saint or head of a religious order) of Abu Hasira, will be cancelled due to country’s current instability. Pilgrims 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 are all Jewish with the majority coming from Israel, a fact that has triggered protests in the past.
The source told the media on Wednesday that the decision came after a meeting was held between key bodies in the Beheira governorate, where the Abu Hasira shrine is located, who then advised the military council to cancel this year’s moulid. The military council agreed.
According to the same source, Israel responded positively, expressing its understanding of the situation in Egypt. The family of Abu Hasira in Israel also agreed to cancel their annual trip to Egypt.
The Abu-Hasira moulid has for years been met with anger and resentment in Egypt particularly as the many of the local community believe Abu Hasira was buried in Morocco. The decision came after several political groups launched a campaign against the influx of Israeli visitors, who require tight security during the visits for their safety.
Several cases have been filed in court demanding the closure of this annual event, including the successful 2001 Alexandria Supreme Administrative court ruling to cancel the festival.