Turkey Excluded From Cairo Islamic Meeting

turkey-and-egypt-come-togetherEgypt has not invited Qatar and Turkey for a major Islamic conference due in Cairo later this week, an Egyptian official disclosed Saturday, accusing both countries of pursuing a policy hostile to Egypt.

“We are not having a crisis with the Qatari or Turkish people … The issue lies in the policy of the Turkish and Qatari governments,” Egyptian Minister of Waqfs (religious endowments) Mohammad Jumaa told a press conference.

Cairo is hosting Tuesday a conference on religious extremism, as Egypt continues an inexorable crackdown on Islamists in what the military-backed government portrays as a “war against terrorism”.

Around 80 scholars from 34 countries and foreign Islamic organisations are participating in the two-day conference.

Jumaa said that Egypt would continue to “welcome” Qatari and Turkish students into Al Azhar, a prestigious Islamic seat of learning.

Relations between Egypt on the one hand and Qatar and Turkey on the other have deteriorated since July last year when the Egyptian military toppled Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous street protests against his one-year rule. Qatar and Turkey are staunch backers of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Earlier this year, Egypt summoned the Qatari ambassador in Cairo to protest Doha’s condemnation of a security crackdown on the Brotherhood’s followers.

Egypt disclosed this month that it has recalled its ambassador from Qatar and will not send him back in the near future. The disclosure was made after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain withdrew their envoys from Doha, accusing Qatar of meddling in their internal affairs.

“The Ministry of Waqfs will not resume contacts with Turkey until the Turkish government apologises to Egypt and to his eminence Imam of Al Azhar, and changes its policy towards Cairo,” said Jumaa.

Late last year, Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador and downgraded diplomatic ties with Ankara to the level of charge d’affaires in protest against what it described as meddlesome remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish premier has condemned Mursi’s overthrow as a coup and called for his reinstatement. Turkey has also criticised Al Azhar Shaikh for backing Mursi’s removal.