181208 farmer egypt
A farmer in Kafr Al Dawar village in northern Egypt’s Nile Delta. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: A top Egyptian court has upheld an earlier ruling halting controversial celebrations of a 19th century Moroccan Jewish rabbi buried in the Delta, legal sources said.

The Supreme Administrative Court confirmed the verdict issued by a lower court in the coastal city of Alexandria in December 2014 that ordered a halt to the celebrations of the birthday of Abu Hasira, saying it contradicts sanctity of religious rituals, they added.

Thousands of Israelis and Jews from around the world used to flock to Egypt every year to attend the festival in late December.

Locals complained that the revellers engaged in boisterous rituals that hurt their feelings.

In 2004, another Egyptian court ruled against holding the festival and revoked a decision by the Ministry of Culture that listed the Abu Hasira tomb in the Delta village of Demito, some 120 kilometers north of Cairo, as an antiquity area.

In its irreversible ruling on Saturday, the Supreme Administrative Court also prohibited the relocation of the Abu Hasira remains to Israel and said that such relocation would contradict Islamic tolerance.

The tribunal said that transfer of the cleric's remains to Jerusalem would be illegal because the city is occupied Arab territory over which Israel has no sovereignty.

Israel has reportedly requested the UNESCO to relocate the Abu Hasira tomb to Jerusalem.

The court, moreover, ordered abrogation of a 2001 decision by the Culture Ministry to include the shrine among Islamic and Coptic antiquities.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.