Egypt will restore synagogues on its own dime

Although Egypt’s population of Jews has dwindled to but a handful, the government has extended help in an offer to restore the country’s synagogues.

In the light of the recent $2m restoration of the Rav Moshe synagogue, and the rededication on Sunday of the Ben Maimon synagogue (both in Cairo), the government is taking the trend to each of its 11 synagogues.

“We are doing this because it’s a part of our history, it’s part of our heritage,” [antiquities minister Zahi Hawass] told CNN last year, explaining the synagogue restoration on a tour of the site.

“And we care about this temple as we care about a mosque and a church.”

That’s all one side of the coin. The other side is the notion that culture minister Farouk Hosny has been looking for a pass to get him out of remarks made in September 2009, when he lost a bid to become head of culture and education at the U.N. and blamed it on a conspiracy “cooked up in New York” by Jews. (Elsewhere he’d threatened burning of Jewish books.)

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