The Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement Wednesday saying it had notified Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for pilgrims to make the yearly visit to the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira near the Nile Delta city of Damanhour.
Though the annual pilgrimage has been a political flashpoint for the past decade, this year’s demonstrations were especially vociferous, with 31 parties and groups from across the political spectrum joining the campaign.
Gamal Heshmat, an Islamist politician involved in coordinating demonstrations against the pilgrimage, said that visiting Abuhatzeira’s tomb would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis. Heshmat, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that “[n]ormalization with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection.”
In response, the Simon Wiesenthal Center accused the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to “curb religious freedom of Jews.” “In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive,” the statement added.