The El Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia 311 (R).
(photo credit: Mohamed Hammi / Reuters)
TUNIS - Jewish pilgrims may not be able to hold their usual celebrations at one of Africa's oldest synagogues this year because of renewed security concerns in Tunisia where the site is based.
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Thousands of pilgrims travel each May to the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba to mark Lag Ba'Omer. They usually hold a vibrant festival filled with music and pageantry.
But this year celebrations will be muted because of continued unrest in the country following the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
"It's true that we have canceled all the celebrations planned for this
year but the pilgrimage will still take place next Friday at the
synagogue," organizer Perez Trabelsi told Reuters.
"People that usually come are scared this year," he said, saying he expected only a few hundred people.
A government source said the pilgrimage would be canceled completely.
El Ghriba was the site of an al-Qaida attack in 2002 which killed 21
people. Another synagogue was set on fire by arsonists in the Tunisian
city of Ghabes in February.
Mainly Muslim Tunisia has one of the largest Jewish communities in North Africa but until recently attacks have been rare.