- Middle East/North Africa
Ministry of Endowments spokesperson Salama Abdel Qawy denied that Endowments Minister Talaat Afify refused an invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to celebrate Prophet Mohamed's birth in Iran.
Abdel Qawy said that Afify is keen on boosting cooperation with Islamic and Arab countries to spread the true concepts of Islam despite doctrinal differences, and also stressed the necessit of respect, coexistence and dialogue.
Abdel Qawy described the invitation from Iran as "positive," but added that the minister is still deciding on it.
On Monday, Afify met with the Iranian ambassador in Cairo in his office, who then invited the minister to attend the 26th International Conference of Islamic Unity, which is scheduled for 27–29 January in Tehran.
The ministry has in the past refused to take part in Shia celebrations in Egypt and abroad, declining invitations sent to the imams of the Hussein and Sayeda Zeinab Mosques to participate in Shia celebrations in Lebanon.
An adviser to Afify, Fouad Abdel Azeem, was recently referred for investigations for visiting Iran, and Abdel Qawy told Al-Masry Al-Youm recently that the minister does not approve of the "Shia tide" in Egypt.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm