Low turnout for Jewish pilgrimage in Tunisia amid security fears

Low turnout for Jewish pilgrimage in Tunisia amid security fears
Photo: Adam Eilath

The annual Jewish pilgrimage on Tunisia's island of Djerba began Friday with a low turnout amid heightened security concerns following a deadly attack last year and the ongoing war in Gaza, according to AFP. The three-day event at the Ghriba synagogue, Africa's oldest, typically attracts thousands of pilgrims from Europe, Israel, and beyond, along with many tourists. However, this year has seen fewer visitors, with almost no foreigners.

Authorities, including plainclothes police and National Guardsmen, restricted entry to the synagogue, allowing only Jewish visitors. Organizers had previously announced that this year's pilgrimage would be limited due to safety concerns related to the Gaza conflict and last year's attack that killed five people. As a result, the usual outdoor celebrations have been canceled, and activities are confined within the synagogue.

The pilgrimage holds significant cultural importance for Tunisia's small Jewish community, which numbers around 1,500, based mostly on Djerba. Organizers say over 5,000 people participated in last year’s pilgrimage, compared to up to 8,000 in previous years.

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