Far from a 'shoe in': Ahmadinejad comes under attack on diplomatic Cairo trip
When news emerged that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was set to become the first Iranian President to visit Egypt in over 30 years this month, many hoped the trip would begin a new era of healthy diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Ahmadinejad's arrival in Cairo on Tuesday was marked with a red-carpet reception and a warm welcome from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
But not everyone shared the politicians’ enthusiasm for a reconciliation and hopes were nearly dashed entirely when a bystander attempted a ‘shoe attack’ on the Iranian president.
In scenes reminiscent of ex-U.S. President Bush in Iraq in 2008 or the tomato pelting Hilary Clinton received in Cairo last year, Ahmadinejad was forced to dodge an oncoming shoe, hurtling in his direction.
A correspondent from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency caught the attempted 'shoe attack' on film and reported that the culprit was a Syrian who shouted: "You killed our brothers!"
The attacker caught the Iranian president on his way out of the Al-Azhar Mosque, where he had been speaking to Sunni cleric, Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.
According to a statement released by Al-Azhar, the cleric used the meeting to criticize Iran's role in the "spread of Shiism in Sunni lands."
He also pressed the Shia president “not [to] interfere in the affairs of Gulf states,” like Bahrain, where Iran is accused of lending support to protests against the ruling Sunni monarchy.
Relations between Iran and Egypt have been in a deep-freeze since the Persian nation's 1979 revolution and there has been no thaw on the horizon over the issue of Syria.
Egypt is a strong supporter of the largely Sunni Syrian opposition, while the Shia-led Persian nation is one of the regime’s only regional friends. President Assad is part of the Alawi sect that shares most of its roots with Shiism, making him an obvious ally for Ahmadinejad.
So, while the shoe-attacker was detained by the Egyptian authorities, the wider issue of Syria continues to haunt the Iranian president’s visit.
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