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Tunisia boosts security for seasonal pilgrimage to historic synagogue

Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 November 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 November 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia has tightened its security in recent days in preparation for the annual pilgrimage of Jews to El-Ghriba Synagogue on the island of Djerba in the south-east of the country, Anadolu has reported. Significant reinforcements have been deployed on access routes to the island, as well as checkpoints in the general tourist area.

Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine visited Djerba on Tuesday to oversee the latest security preparations before the start of the pilgrimage season, which will last from 14 to 22 May.

"There is a complete preparedness, and there are distinctive security preparations and a security focus," he told journalists. "I assure Tunisians that Djerba is safe and Tunisia is safe."

El-Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba is believed to be the oldest synagogue in Africa, dating back more than 2,400 years. Jews from around the world visit annually to perform specific rituals believed to bring good luck.

Tunisia relies a lot on the income generated by such pilgrims. The season was cancelled in 2020 and restrictions were in place last year. However, visitors are returning as normal for the 2022 season.

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