Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said his government would build synagogues and provide services to the Jewish community if there is a resurgence of the community in his country, JTA reported on Monday.
Sisi made the statement last week during a meeting with a US delegation made up of the Anwar Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Commission, which successfully lobbied to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
President Donald Trump signed the bill to grant the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress in December.
The commission members were in Egypt to invite Sisi to attend the ceremony in the fall, when the medal will be presented to Jehan Sadat, the wife of the Egyptian leader who was assassinated in 1981.
The commission was founded and led by Ezra Friedlander, an Orthodox Jewish consultant and lobbyist from New York.
“President Sisi spoke fondly not only of Egypt’s past vibrant Jewish community, but also said that should there be a resurgence of the Jewish community in Egypt, the government will provide every religious necessity required,” Friedlander was quoted as having told The Jerusalem Post.
“He basically said that should there be a resurgence of the Jewish community, the government will build synagogues and other related services,” added Friedlander.
There were between 80,000 and 120,000 Jews in Egypt up until the mid-20th century, but the 1948 War of Independence led to the disintegration of the community, with many leaving Egypt or being forced out under the regime of then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In 2017, the Egyptian government approved a $22 million plan to restore the 160-year-old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, which is the last active synagogue in the city but which had been forced to close after part of its ceiling fell down.
In December of 2018, Sisi announced he would allocate $71 million for the renovation of synagogues and Jewish heritage sites in the country.