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Tunisia Wants Djerba Island Named World Heritage Site

(JTA) — Tunisia will seek UNESCO World Heritage status for the island of Djerba, the site of an annual Jewish pilgrimage.

Tunisia’s culture minister, Mohamed Zine El-Abidine, made the announcement on Sunday, the last day of the traditional Lag b’Omer pilgrimage near the Ghriba synagogue on Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia.

He did not say when his country would file the application. He said that the application would highlight the rich religious heritage of the island, which is home to centuries-old mosques, churches and synagogues, the French news agency AFP reported.

The Ghriba synagogue is the oldest in Africa.

The pilgrimage takes place on or around Lag b’Omer, a break during the 49 days of mourning between Passover and Shavuot, drawing hundreds of the nation’s Jews and visitors from Israel.

Some 3,000 pilgrims attended this year’s Jewish pilgrimage to the island, and were guarded by tight security in the wake of attacks and threats of attacks.

The synagogue, in the village of Hara Seghira, or Er-Riadh, dates back to 586 B.C., although the current building was reconstructed in the 19th century.

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Tunisia Wants Djerba Island Named World Heritage Site

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