Tunisia ups security ahead of Jewish pilgrimage

Ahead of pilgrimage to El Ghriba synagogue, hundreds of armed officers line entrance to island, according to news agency.

By JTA
April 25, 2013 13:42
The El Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia

The El Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia 311 (R). (photo credit: Mohamed Hammi / Reuters)

 
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Tunisian police have upped security on the island of Djerba ahead of the anticipated arrival of hundreds of Jewish pilgrims to the El Ghriba synagogue.

The pilgrims were expected to arrive on the island of Djerba on Thursday, according to the Italian news agency ANSAmed. The news site Tunivisions reported security will be much tighter than in previous years.

The synagogue, which is located in the village of Hara Seghira, or 'Er-Riadh,' dates back to 586 B.C. In 2002, terrorists blew up a vehicle near the synagogue, killing 21 people.

ANSAmed reported that hundreds of armed officers are lining the entrance to the island as well as at the traditional sites where pilgrims gather for prayers.

Over the past few weeks, security forces have arrested a few hundred people suspected of having ties to Muslim extremist groups, the news agency reported.

In February, Israel's Foreign Ministry charged its diplomats with calling on the international community to urge the Tunisian government to protect its Jewish community, Israeli media reported.

The order was issued following several anti-Semitic incidents in Tunisia, which is home to about 2,000 Jews.

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