Tantawy slips up in international conference

Yasmine Saleh
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy urged the Iranian government to rename Khaled Eslamboli Street, named after the Egyptian army officer who assassinated Anwar El-Sadat, five years after the Tehran City Council changed its name to Intifada Avenue.

During his speech at the third International Religious Leaders Conference in Kazakhstan last week, Tantawy said he will not visit Iran until the street is renamed.

Ties between Egypt and Iran have been strained since the Islamic revolution of 1979 and late President Anwar El-Sadat’s decision to allow the overthrown Shah of Iran to seek exile in Egypt. Ties between the two countries officially broke off in 1980, in protest over the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel.

However, in an effort to restore relations Egypt, the Tehran City Council agreed to rename Khaled Eslamboli Street to Intifada Avenue in January 2004.

Tantawy went on to urge Iran to take down a public picture of Eslamboli that is meant to glorify him. Tantawy also asked Iran to burn the documentary “The Execution of the Pharaoh, which portrays Sadat’s assassin Eslambouli as a martyr, who killed the “traitor, as described by the film, for signing a peace treaty with Israel.

According to state-run Al-Ahram Weekly, the movie was produced by the Committee for Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement in Iran and was screened on the sidelines of an Iranian festival in 2008.

Tantawy said that for Al-Azhar to open a branch in Tehran, all the aforementioned conditions have to be met.

This is the second time Tantawy takes center stage in an international conference. Last November during a UN-sponsored religious dialogue conference in the US, Tantawy shook hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres and following a media backlash, he claimed that he did not know he was the president of Israel.

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