It is amazing that some people are trying to present Iranian tourists in Egypt as some kind of Shia invasion. The same people say nothing about Israeli tourists, even though they are all over the country whereas the Iranians are largely outside Cairo. Israel is a country against which Egypt has suffered many casualties in five wars; our land has been occupied and our people displaced; and Al-Aqsa Mosque is under occupation, but not a single complaint has been heard about Israeli tourists.
The times we live in are not pleasant. Standards have dropped and our moral compass is guided by America, so that Iran is cast as the enemy while Israel is our friend. Throughout history, however, Iran/Persia has never sent an army to fight Egypt, unlike Israel.
Relations with Iran and its perceived threat are being used to attack President Morsi by the self-same liberals who called for diplomatic relations to be restored after the revolution; they even visited Tehran as part of a delegation, and yet they are now using Iranian tourists as a platform to attack our fledgling democracy. Political deception is now a standard part of national affairs despite the damage that this does to Egypt’s interests at home and abroad. Our country is being torn apart by its own people.
Both Egypt and Iran have regional influence that cannot be underestimated, especially if they have a shared platform. They have a lot in common, including religion and a history which confirms them as centres of education and civilisation in the region. Egyptians and Iranians (or Persians as they were once called) were civilising pioneers at a time when ignorance and darkness prevailed in other parts of the world. Those who have no desire to see Egypt and Iran strong and independent are trying to light the fires of denominational discrimination to create division. “Divide and rule” is, of course, a classic colonialist tactic.
Iran presents a unique model for establishing a powerful country which rejects the domination of the United States. This should inspire Egyptians to do likewise without concerning ourselves about Iran’s “plans to spread Shia Islam”.
So what is causing the delay in such moves? We do not want to upset the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia which has the highest level of diplomatic and economic relations with Egypt. Iranian investments in Abu Dhabi total billions of dollars; clearly the Sunni-Shia issue doesn’t prevent that particular Gulf State from accepting investment from Tehran.
It is claimed that Iran is occupying three islands in the Arabian/Persian Gulf; we didn’t hear about this during the Shah’s rule even though he laid claim to them after the withdrawal of the British from the “Trucial States”, now the UAE, in 1971. At the time, a trade-off was made for the three islands and the separation of Bahrain from Iran; the agreement was signed by the Shah and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Everyone was happy, which is why we didn’t hear dissenting voices calling for the islands’ liberation until after the fall of the Shah and Iran’s target moved from America and Israel to the Arabs and Muslims. Isn’t this a paradox we should examine?
We campaigned against Iran for 8 years in order to try to strangle its Islamic Revolution and fell into the US-laid trap of the nuclear weapons argument, while we ignore Israel’s huge nuclear arsenal as the West tries to make the issue one of Sunni-Shia division. Sadly, the demonic media machine is used to spread lies and rumours intended to tear apart the Muslim Ummah, which we are told in the Qur’an is the best nation brought forward for mankind.
Wasn’t Iran a Shia country during the Shah’s reign? Why didn’t we hear before now from any of those people pushing sectarian and denominational rivalry on every TV channel? We should fear the Almighty and not dispute amongst ourselves if we really want to succeed.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.