Sunday, March 14, 2010

Egypt -- Formal opening of restored synagogue cancelled

L'Chaim, everyone. This makes one question the definition of "provocative."

Egypt cancelled Sunday's formal ceremony opening the a renovated Maimonides synagogue in Cairo -- protest at what antiquities chief Zahi Hawass called "provocative" Jewish and Israeli actions. The even was to have taken place one week after the synagogue was rededicated in a ceremony attended by about 150 people, including the US and Israeli ambassadors.

AFP reports that both Hawass and Culture Minister Faruq Hosni had been due to attend Sunday's cancelled event.
Citing press reports, Hawass said in a statement that the cancellation comes after "provocative" acts during the March 7 ceremony in Cairo's ancient Jewish quarter.
He referred to "dancing and drinking alcohol in the synagogue, as reported by several newspapers," and said such acts "were seen to provoke the feelings of millions of Muslims in Egypt and across the world."
The decision was also taken at "a time when Muslim holy sites in occupied Palestine face assaults from Israeli occupation forces and settlers," Hawass said.
He was referring to clashes at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound and plans to include two contested West Bank holy shrines on a list of Israeli heritage sites.
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AP reports  that "The cancellation was largely symbolic as the restoration is complete and the synagogue has been reopened."
The March 7 dedication ceremony at the synagogue, named after the 12th century rabbi and intellectual Maimonides, was closed to media and included half a dozen Egyptian Jewish families that long ago fled the country. No Egyptian officials attended the ceremony. A group of about 11 Hassidic Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis also came to Cairo from the United States and Israel and sang at the event. Attendees also said toasts were made.

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