Iran denies ties to Shiite groups in Egypt


Iran had no ties to any Shiite groups in Egypt that recently opened a Husseiniya (Shiite house of worship) in Cairo, an Iranian official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

According to Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, secretary general of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, Mohammad Mahdi Tashkiri, said the practices in fact harm the possibilities of dialogue and unity among Muslims.

Tashkiri recently emphasized to an an Egyptian delegation visiting Tehran, that Islamic countries now more than ever need to cooperate in political, social and economic fields in light of the common challenges they face.

Tashrkiri also condemned arguments of doctrinal differences, as happened in Iraq, the paper said.

Shiites are estimated to be a tiny fraction of Egypt’s population of 82-million, most of whom are Sunnis. Shiism is dominant in Iraq and Iran, a regional rival to Egypt and the Gulf countries.

Shiite Islam remains taboo in Egypt, partly because of its association with Iran, which has low-level diplomatic representation in Cairo after Egypt broke off ties following the Islamic republic’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Anti-Shiite rhetoric is widespread, particularly among Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi movement.

A number of Islamic scholars including the top Islamic cleric Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar Institute Dr. Ahmed El-Tayyeb have rejected the spread of the “Shiite tide” in Egypt and told Iran's envoy in Cairo that the Husseiniyas promoted “instability.”

(Written by Sara Ghasemilee)