Egyptian town wants to stop Jewish pilgrimage to rabbi’s grave

June 2, 2011

From The Egyptian Gazette:

Residents of el-Behira Governorate in the Nile Delta vowed Thursday to prevent thousands of Jews, who arrive en masse at the tiny village of Demito near Damanhour City, 50 km southeast of Alexandria, every year during the last week of each December to attend the birthday celebrations of Abu Hasira, a Moroccan Jewish holy man, who was buried there some 150 years ago.

A female residents said that the Jews drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, to be blessed as part of their veneration of the rabbi.

“The Jewish visitors usually get drunk and engage in obscene dancing during the celebrations,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, said, demanding that the Abu Hasira festival should be cancelled after the revolution and the deposing of Mubarak, whom she dismissed as Israel’s friend.

Damito dwellers, led by lawyer Rasslan, have officially requested the SCAF to stop the festival because of their discontent about the Jews’ misconduct.

They have also demanded that the Essam Sharf Government to move Abu Hasira’s remains to Israel and change the name of their village from Damito to Mohamed el-Dura, the Palestinian young boy whom Israeli forces shot to death in cold blood during the second Intifada eleven years ago.

Egyptians decide to protesta gainst Israel’s existence at a shrine that has nothing to do with Israel and only has religious significance. A shrine that they want to remove from their midst.

But don’t say they hate Jews! (h/t Vicious Babushka) and more via

Yaakov Abuhatzeira, also known as the Avir Yaakov and Abu Hasira (1805–1880), was a leading Moroccan-Jewish rabbi of the 19th century.

In 1879, Abuhatzeira left his native Morocco and embarked on a pilgrimage to the Land of Israel via Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. While passing through the Egyptian city of Damanhur, he grew ill and died. He was buried in the Nile Delta in the Egyptian village of Dantu (Damatiuh). His tomb became a site of pilgrimage.
According to legend, the ship that was carrying Rabbi Abuhatzeira from Morocco to the Holy Land sank, and he miraculously survived by clinging to a straw mat. He was washed ashore and continued to Jerusalem. He died in Egypt while on his journey home to Morocco

Every year on the 19th of Tevet a ceremony is held at his tomb, often attended by hundreds of devotees, many travelling from Israel. The tomb is an official antiquity site protected by the government of Egypt. Some Egyptians have protested against permitting Jews to enter Egypt to make the annual pilgrimage to Rabbi Abuhatzeira’s tomb.
He is the grandfather of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, also known as the Baba Sali, a revered rabbi and kabbalist whose tomb in Netivot is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Israel.