CAIRO - The people of el-Beheira Governorate are delighted that this year’s Abu Haseira festival, which attracts many Jews to the village of Damitiou, has been cancelled. The people of Damitiou had tried in vain to get previous governments to cancel the feast.
Adel el-Khawalka, who lives in the village, said they always felt ashamed to see Jews turning up to celebrate the festival. “The village used to be virtually paralysed during the festival, while our children were horrified by the stepped-up security presence,” he added.
“The governments in Mubarak’s era ignored the psychological suffering caused us by the grave of Yacov Abu Haseira,” Saad Gamal, another villager, told Al-Wafd opposition newspaper.
According to Ismail Abdel-Hadi, who also lives there, many of the villagers have moved elsewhere because of the problems caused by previous governments colluding with the Zionist entity.
Meanwhile, political and popular powers have expressed their support for the decision to cancel the festival.
“The Zionists desecrated our land with their disgraceful behaviour; they drank alcohol here, in the name of Jewish rituals,” noted Ismail el-Kholi, a member of Al-Wafd Party.
Previous governments ignored the popular anger and the citizens’ demands to abolish the Abu Haseira festival.
Because of the Jewish visitors, the village of Damitiou turned into a barracks every year.
Citizens, lawyers and political powers filed many lawsuits in a bid to have the festival stopped; the last lawsuit was heard in 2010 at the Alexandria Administrative Court.
Different political powers held demonstrations calling for cancelling the festival and banning Jews from entering the village.Many people also criticised the toppled regime for trying to impose normalisation with Israel on the Egyptian people.
Meanwhile, Israeli TV’s Channel Seven announced on October 10 that the decision, issued by the Beheira’s Governor to cancel the Abu Haseira festival, shocked Jewish communities.
A number of rabbis have visited the Egyptian Consulate in Tel Aviv to express their anger at this decision, calling for the festival to be allowed to resume once again.
In 1880, the Shrine of Abu Haseira was registered as a religious antiquity by Egypt’s Supreme Antiquities Council. It is subject to protection as a monument according to Law 17 of 1983.