Iranian official denies organization of Shia rituals in Egypt

Iran is not connected to Shia groups in Egypt that recently held Husseiniat, rituals performed in memory of the death of Prophet Mohamed’s grandson Hussein, an Iranian official has said, according to German news agency DPA.

Mohamed Mahdi Taskhiri, secretary general of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, said such practices harm the possibility of dialogue and Islamic unity, and hence are irresponsible. He described them as individual practices.

Anti-Shia rhetoric is prevalent in Egypt, especially among Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi movement, which are predominately Sunni.  

During his meeting with an Egyptian delegation visiting Tehran, Taskhiri said that more than ever, Islamic countries need to cooperate in political, social and economic fields in light of the common challenges they face, particularly since they have a common history and present situation, reported DPA.

He emphasized the need to steer clear of doctrinal differences in the Islamic world and of attempts to spread one’s doctrine in other countries, saying this would lead to fragmentation and extremism.

Ties between Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and Iran were severed after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel the same year. But they have warmed since a popular uprising toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February.

Taskhiri said his organization has participated in and organized more than 80 forums last year. Al-Azhar first brought up the idea of bringing Shia and Sunni Muslims closer 70 years ago, he said.

He condemned fighting over doctrinal differences, as happened in Iraq and other countries, expressing hope for stability in Syria. He said the official Iranian position on the crisis in Syria has sparked controversy in Iran, with half of the population opposing the official Iranian stance.

Amid mounting criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime over the government’s response to ongoing unrest in the country, Iran — a traditional Assad ally — has chosen to reiterate its support for the Alawite leader.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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