CAIRO: Amid a media frenzy targeting Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy for shaking hands with the Israeli President last month, an ex-deputy Azhar sheikh is blaming the Egyptian delegation’s lack of professionalism.
Local press published pictures showing Tantawy shaking hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres during a UN-sponsored religious dialogue conference in the US last month.
Tantawy told the Egyptian press that he did not know Peres, who has served twice as Israeli Prime Minister and has a long history of involvement in the Israeli government since the foundation of the Sate of Israel in 1948.
Peres also won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks in which he participated as Israeli Foreign Minister.
Those who published the pictures of the handshake were a group of lunatics, Tantawy told the Egyptian press.
“I shook his hand without knowing what he looked like, he said. “The handshake was in passing… because I don t know him to begin with.
Sheikh Al-Sayed Abdel Maksoud Askar, member of the People’s Assembly’s religious affairs committee and ex-deputy of Al-Azhar blames the delegation accompanying Tantawy, saying that “this delegation is responsible for directing and guiding Tantawy as to how to deal diplomatically in similar situations.
“They [the other delegates] should be aware of all those attending the conference and guide Sheikh Tantawy’s interaction with everyone around him, he said.
Tantawy, says Askar, represents Al-Azhar and so should have “the best and most educated representatives with him at big conferences and they should help him handle such situations so that he would not be put in a position like that, which has greatly upset Egyptians. -Additional reporting by AFP