Special report

Jews and Muslims pray together during annual pilgrimage to Ghriba synagogue

Fathi Nasri, AFP | A Jewish pilgrim lights a candle on the first day of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the El Ghriba Synagogue, the oldest Jewish monument built in Africa, on Tunisia's Mediterranean island of Djerba on May 22, 2019.

This year's annual pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba off the coast of Tunisia, where Jews ask a saint to grant wishes, coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for the first time since 1987.


Thousands head to El Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba annually for the Lag Ba-omer holiday, celebrating the revelation of important jewish texts

"Djerba is known for people living together, for peace, and I think it's an ideal and unique place in the world where all the communities live together in peace," said René Trabelsi, the minister of Tourism.

And in keeping with the message of unity, the first day of Lag Ba-omer celebrations ended with an interfaith breaking of the fast involving Muslims, Jews and Christians on Wednesday.

The number of Jews in Tunisia has fallen significantly, from around 100,000 before independence from France in 1956 to an estimated 1,500 today, most of whom live in Djerba.

The festival, an important tradition for Jewish Tunisians, is no ordinary act of worship. Pilgrims revere a girl – known as the "Ghriba" – who is said to have been killed by lightning and whom they hope will grant their wishes, especially for fertility, marital happiness and health.

Some Jewish Tunisians also venerate Sidi Mahrez, a Muslim saint from the 11th century believed to have stood up for them.

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(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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