Virus nixes Jewish pilgrimage to Tunisia's Ghriba

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Tunis (AFP)

The annual Jewish pilgrimage to the ancient Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers said Tuesday.

Beginning 33 days after the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, the pilgrimage -- which had been scheduled for May 7-13 -- usually attracts thousands of Jewish worshippers from across the world.

But Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, has been shut as part of steps to curb the spread of coronavirus which has infected almost 900 people and cost 38 lives in Tunisia.

"We will only reopen the synagogue once the danger of the virus has passed," at the same time as mosques and other places of worship are reopened, pilgrimage organiser Perez Trabelsi told AFP.

Tunisian Jews now numbers around 1,500, compared with an estimated 100,000 living in the North African country when it gained independence in 1956.