The Administrative Court of Alexandria on Monday banned an annual festival in honor of Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira zt”l, the grandfather of the Baba Sali.
For years, hundreds have been flocking to the kever of “the tzaddik from Morocco” in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, south of Alexandria. After the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egypt began allowing organized and heavily secured trips to the kever.
The Egyptian court banned the visits and stripped the ministry’s designation, acting on a complaint filed by local residents.
The residents had also expressed their anger over the normalization of ties with Israel by allowing the festival.
The complaint was first filed by local resident Ahmed Mohamed Attia in 2001. The Al-Youm Al-Sabaa newspaper reported that the court ruling was praised both by the residents and by the lawyers representing them.
The court also rejected an Israeli request from the United Nations to transfer the remains of Rav Yaakov to Yerushalayim for burial, claiming that opening the grave contradicts the principles of Israel.
“Israel’s request from UNESCO is unilateral and ignores the involved Egyptian authorities,” the court stated, accusing Israel of trying to change the identity of “Arab Jerusalem” (the eastern part of the city) and “perpetuate the Jewish state in the Palestinian territories, making UNESCO a party to the matter.”
The ruling defined the decision as “a huge historical error which harms the Egyptian people’s heritage.” The court ordered the government to remove the site from the cultural monuments list and inform UNESCO about it.
Magda Haroun, the leader of Egypt’s Jewish community, defined the ruling as “unconstitutional.” She told the al-Masry al-Youm daily that “the constitution protects the right of worshippers from all three monotheistic religions to hold their religious ritual.”
Haroun clarified that Jews had a right to visit the kever. She slammed the decision to remove the site from the list of Egyptian cultural monuments, saying that “it will lead to the site’s destruction,” and expressed her anger over the linkage between Israel and the site.
“What does Rabbi Abuchatzeira have to do with the Zionist state? He was born and died before it was even founded,” she stated.
Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, born in northern Morocco in 1805, was a son of the chief rabbi of Morocco. He fell ill during a visit to the sacred sites in Yerushalayim and was niftar in Egypt in 1879.
Read more at Ynet News.