Tehran condemns Egypt’s exclusion of Iranians in Quran competition
Student During Holy Quran competition - YOUM7/ Khaled Kamel

CAIRO: Egypt’s failure to invite Iran to its Holy Quran competition is “inconsistent with the principles of cultural exchange,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) quoted spokesperson of the Iranian Endowment Authority Hassan al-Rubaie Monday.

Rubaei said that Iran continues to invite Quran reciters from Egypt and elsewhere to Iran’s holy Quran competitions “with no distinction,” adding that 70 Egyptian contestant and arbitrators were part of Iran’s 2011 Holy Quran contest.

Contestants from Iran, Turkey and Qatar were excluded from Egypt’s International Quran Competition for the Holy Quran, which kicked off Saturday with 100 competitors from 70 states.

The three states “fund terrorism,” and 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.

Egypt’s allegations that Iran supports “terrorism” are “unfounded,” Rubaie said, adding that Iran exerts “valuable efforts” to fight terrorism internally and externally. He also called for “Islamic unity.”

Cairo is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthis, who are believed by the coalition to be backed by Iran. Generally, Egypt’s relations with Iran have not been friendly since the latter’s Islamic revolution in the 1970s.

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