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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Egypt restoring historic synagogue to appear tolerant

From the Daily News Egypt:
The Supreme Council of Antiquities is working on renovating the Moses Bin Maimon’s Synagogue in El-Gamaliya, Zahi Hawass, head of the SCA announced in a press conference Thursday.

The restoration of the synagogue is part of a key plan by the SCA to restore all the major religious sites in Egypt including 10 Jewish temples.

The council is expected to spend LE 700 million every year on the renovations.

Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue’s expenses alone amounted to approximately LE 8.5 million, restoring about 60 percent so far.

Renovations started in June 15, 2008 and are expected to be completed by March 30, 2010, coinciding with the birthday of its founder.

The Jewish temples belong to the Egyptian people,” said Hawass, “that’s why the Supreme Council of Antiquities strives to reestablish this Egyptian heritage. There are 10 other Jewish temples across Egypt in the restoration plan.”

The synagogue, which was declared an antiquity in 1986, dates back to the 19th century.

It is good to hear, even if the synagogue itself will hardly be used. Egypt has less than a hundred Jews left, down from 75,000 in 1948. Many were forcibly expelled (or what would be called "ethnically cleansed" nowadays.)

Somehow, I imagine that Muslims would find it very upsetting if they heard someone say "Israel's mosques belong to the Zionist people."

To paraphrase something I wrote last year, about the news that Kuwait was going to build a synagogue that would be unusable by any Jews: It is easy to show respect for a religion after you make sure that most of its adherents aren't polluting your country.