Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian Islamists and other activists vowed Wednesday to prevent Israelis from making an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta.
Pilgrimage opponents have decided to stage protests on roads leading to the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo, said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group which is the country’s best organized political movement.
He said that the late December and early January pilgrimage would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis, because of popular opposition to their presence in Egypt.
“Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of people and despite popular rejection,” said Heshmat, who recently won a seat in parliament in the country’s first elections following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Egyptian activists have rallied against the pilgrimage every year for most of the last decade. Egypt’s daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year’s campaign.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in Los Angeles, denounced the attempts to block the pilgrimage. In a Tuesday statement, the center’s Abraham Cooper accused the Brotherhood of trying to “curb religious freedom of Jews.”
“In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive,” he said.
A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Abu Hatzeira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879 when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.
According to tradition, his followers tried to move his tomb three times, and three times heavy storms prevented them.
After Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, Jewish devotees — mostly of Moroccan origin — have traveled annually to the site. But Egypt has limited the numbers of pilgrims.
In 2001 and 2004, two court orders banned the ceremony after opponents filed legal challenges.
Since then, both Delta residents and activist groups have denounced the ceremony. The residents complain of harassment by security forces deployed to protect the pilgrims. Activists oppose the normalization of relations with a country that Egypt fought in four wars between 1948 and 1973, and also see the defiance of the court order as part of the Mubarak regime’s general trampling of the rule of law.
In 2009, Egypt officially denied the pilgrims entry because the anniversary fell while Israel was conducing an offensive in Gaza.
A year later, the Israeli press reported that Mubarak accepted a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift the limits on the number of pilgrims.
The tomb is a vestige of Egypt’s once-prosperous Jewish community, which at the time of the first war with Israel in 1948 numbered about 80,000 people.
But the Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced the number of Egypt’s Jews to about 60 individuals, according to the Israeli embassy.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.