(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas leader Arye Deri, who in the past utilized the holiday of immigrants from Morocco, Mimouna, for political purposes, was conspicuously absent from celebrations on Saturday night and Sunday.
Deri, who was born in Meknes, Morocco, and made aliya at age nine, has in the past used Mimouna to highlight the culture of Moroccan immigrants and others who came from North African countries. He has been a fixture at Mimouna events throughout the country.
But due to the ongoing criminal investigation against him, Deri chose to cancel his participation at a Shas event in Ashdod, remain with his family for the holiday, and celebrate privately. The Deri family spent Passover and Mimouna at their posh vacation home, whose financing has been questioned in the probe, in the Galilee moshav of Safsufa (Kfar Hoshen), near Mount Meron.
Deri tweeted a photo of himself in a traditional Moroccan robe and fez, with the message: “May you have many pleasant and good years.”
Deri told the Shas newspaper Yom Leyom over the weekend that he would not lead a campaign against law enforcement authorities even if he is convicted.
He led such a campaign before going to prison for bribery in 2000.
“Even if this story God forbid continues, and even if they announce that there is nothing behind the charges and close the case, I will not complain about the police and the State’s Attorney’s Office,” he said. “They did their jobs and they had to check what had to be checked.”
The Mimouna holiday is marked on the day after Passover by Jews of North African origin, and many other Israeli Jews have joined in the celebrations since the tradition was imported to Israel. This year the celebration was delayed for a day because Passover ended on Friday at the beginning of Shabbat.
The holiday is usually celebrated outdoors, with picnics and barbecues featuring traditional Moroccan dress, music and dancing, as well as food, especially moufleta. MKs across the political spectrum are known to take part in and give speeches at Mimouna celebrations around the country.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.