Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Egypt’s top cleric scolds Ahmadinejad

06 February 2013, 11:35

Cairo - Egypt's top cleric has told visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to interfere in the affairs of Bahrain or other Gulf states, and to uphold the rights of his country's Sunni minority.

Ahmadinejad, the first Iranian president to visit Egypt in more than 30 years, was given a red-carpet welcome by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on Tuesday at the start of his landmark visit but was later chided by the top Sunni cleric.

Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, also denounced what he described as the "spread of Shiism in Sunni lands".

Tayyeb, who made the remarks in a statement after meeting Ahmadinejad, demanded "the Iranian president respect Bahrain as a brotherly Arab nation, and not interfere in the affairs of Gulf states".

He also said Ahmadinejad must uphold the rights of his Shiite-ruled country's Sunni minority.

In October, Bahrain summoned an Iranian envoy to protest against Tehran's "interference" in the Gulf state's internal affairs. Iran has supported protests by Bahrain's Shiite majority against the Sunni monarchy.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Ahmadinejad gave a news conference at Al-Azhar in which he said he "came from Iran to say that Egypt and the Egyptian people have their place in the heart of the Iranian people".

"I hope this visit will be a new beginning for solidarity between our two people," he said.

Frank discussions

But senior Al-Azhar cleric Hassan al-Shafie, who spoke after Ahmadinejad, launched into a tirade against "some Shiites" for insulting some of the Prophet Mohammed's companions as the Iranian president listened with noticeable unease.

"The discussions were frank," Shafie said of Ahmadinejad's meeting with Tayyeb.

Shiites revile some of the Prophet Mohammed's companions they accuse of usurping power from his cousin Ali, whom they believe was designated as his rightful heir.

Sunnis view this position as heresy, but Al-Azhar had traditionally taken an ecumenical stance on Shiites.

But the Sunni institute has adopted a much harsher tone in the past year, accusing Shiites of trying to spread their doctrine in Egypt and even issuing a statement that used a pejorative term for Shiites - rafidah, or rejectionists.

Al-Azhar's hardened stance is thought in part to stem from the increased pressure of more conservative Salafi clerics, who share doctrines of Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Sunni Islam.

In the evening, Ahmadinejad was booed by a man who also tried to throw his shoe at the Iranian president as he left the Al-Hussein mosque following prayers, according to a witness.

The man also pushed a bodyguard, but he was quickly dealt with and Ahmadinejad was able to enter his car.

Thawing relations

In front of the mosque, four youths waved placards scrawled with slogans against Iran over its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in its 22-month conflict with Sunni-led rebels.

Ahmadinejad will attend a summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Co-operation that opens on Wednesday in Cairo to tackle crises ranging from the French-led battle against Islamist militants in Mali to the Syrian civil war.

The visit comes amid thawing relations between Egypt and Iran, which severed ties with Cairo in 1980 in protest over a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979, the same year Iran's Islamic revolution toppled the pro-West shah.

Iran has been reaching out to Egypt since Islamists came to power in the wake of the 2011 revolution that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak, a staunch critic of Tehran.

Morsi, who hails from the powerful Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, has attended a Non-Aligned Summit in Iran, becoming the first Egyptian president to travel to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...