CAIRO: Contestants from Iran, Turkey and Qatar have been excluded from Egypt’s International Quran Competition for the Holy Quran, which began Saturday with 100 competitors from 70 states.
The three states fund “terrorism,” Iran feeds the “Shiite tide” across Arab countries, and Qatar broadcasts “anti-Egypt” programs, claimed spokesperson of the Ministry of Endowment Mohamed Abdel Razek in remarks to LTC channel Saturday.
“We have not invited [the three states to the contest] so they feel they are alienated,” Abdel Razek said, adding that the step targets the countries, rather than their nationals, because participants compete in the name of their states.
The competition, running until April 23, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. Participants of Quran competitions come from all Muslim countries, including non-Arab countries, to compete as to who memorizes the Islam’s holy book most perfectly and deliver the best accurate recitation.
“There must be a position against these countries so they come to their senses,” Abdel Razek added.
Egypt’s relations with Iran have not been friendly since the latter’s Islamic revolution in the 70s. Although relations with Qatar were not at their best under the three-decade presidency of Hosni Mubarak, it deeply worsened after the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, much like ties with Turkey.
Both Qatari and Egyptian authorities have harshly criticized one another since Morsi’s military ouster.