Egypt stops attempt to smuggle Jewish artifacts

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Associated Press

Posted on April 18, 2014 at 7:32 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 18 at 8:03 AM

CAIRO (AP) — Authorities in Egypt say they have seized a cache of Jewish religious artifacts that smugglers wanted to ship to Belgium at one of the country's main ports.

Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement Friday that officials found the artifacts while searching cargo Thursday at the coastal city of Damietta.

Among the artifacts are a cylindrical wooden box plated in silver, which would have held Torah scrolls. Officials also found a silver knife dating to roughly 1890 with inscriptions, and bells commonly hung in synagogues.

A committee will study and date the cache, which the statement says "embodies a period of religious tolerance in Egypt's history."

Egypt has experienced a security vacuum since its 2011 uprising. Thousands of artifacts have been stolen.

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