Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to Egypt – designed to go down in the history books as a turning point in relations between the two countries – quickly went from very bad to much worse. It’s not too much to suggest that, shortly after receiving an effusive welcome Tuesday at Cairo’s airport from his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi, the Iranian leader found himself in flat-out humiliating circumstances within a day.
The downward spiral started with an attempt by a Syrian – angry over Iran’s support for the Bashar al-Assad regime – to hit Ahmadinejad with his shoe. He was stopped by Egyptian security before he could succeed.
From there Ahmadinejad traveled to Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious institution of learning in the Sunni Muslim world. The visit was the opposite of auspicious.
After meeting with Al-Azhar’s grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Ahmadinejad held a press conference with senior cleric Sheikh Hassan al-Shafai. In front of rolling cameras, Shafai announced that the grand imam had instructed the Iranian president to cease all Shia missionary activity in Egypt and to stop interfering in the internal politics of Bahrain and other Arab states.
A stunned Ahmadinejad replied that such remarks were best suited to “closed meetings,” and proceeded to leave the press conference.
[Photo: Tentoila / Wiki Commons]