Moroccan Jewish men pray at a synagogue in Tetouan, Morocco Reuters

An Egyptian court has banned an annual Jewish festival held in the town of Damanhur over "moral offences" in previous years.

Local residents had reportedly complained about men and women mingling at the festival and criticised the consumption of alcohol, while the security presence around the festival was said to have been disruptive.

The festival, which honours a 19<sup>th-century Moroccan rabbi, has taken place in Egypt since its government signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979.

Jews from Israel and Morocco have since made the annual pilgrimage to the festival at the tomb of Yaakov Abuhatzeira on 1 January. Hundreds of visitors make the journey each year.

The festival was most recently cancelled in 2012 amid security concerns, following the ouster of long-standing president Hosni Mubarak. However, the court ruling on Monday 29 December will make the ban permanent unless it is overturned in a higher court.

The same court has also ordered the government to reverse the 2001 recognition of the festival by state tourism officials and remove the tomb from the national antiquities and monuments list.