Egypt officially informed Israel more than two months ago that it would not allow an annual Abu Jewish festival to take place in Egypt this year due to internal instability, an Egyptian diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
"It was a unanimous decision by all relevant bodies in Beheira Governorate, where the Abu Hasira shrine is located,” the source said.
The Abu Hasira festival, which was scheduled for 9 and 10 January, is held on the annual anniversary of the death of Rabbi Abu Hasira, whose mausoleum is located in the village of Damtu outside Damanhour.
Political groups in Egypt had announced on Monday that they plan to protest during the festival, prompting authorities to announce that the festival had already been cancelled.
The source added that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) approved the decision to outlaw the festival this year, communicating it to Israel through diplomatic channels, confirming that Israel understood the situation and accepted the Egyptian decision.
The source explained that those who had already visited the shrine this year were not Israelis, but came from other countries and entered Egypt with valid tourist visas.
Abu Hasira was born in Morocco. According to Jewish lore, the ship that was carrying him to Palestine sank, after which he floated on a straw mat that eventually landed on Syrian shores. The rabbi, according to Jewish tradition, continued from Syria to Palestine and then on to Egypt.
He died in Damtu in 1880. Every year, thousands of Jews visit the Abu Hasira’s mausoleum to mark the anniversary of his death.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm