CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president is taking a break from mounting domestic troubles to host an Islamic summit that has, even before starting, laid bare divisions within the Muslim world.
Mohammed Morsi opens the summit on Wednesday, a day after his central bank reported another alarming drop in foreign currency reserves. The Islamist Morsi is also facing a seemingly endless wave of protests by an opposition that demands an end to what it describes as his efforts to monopolize power and advance the interests of his Muslim Brotherhood group.
The summit’s most high profile participant, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said his country will be ready to provide a “big credit line” to help revive the distressed economy of Egypt, which saw its foreign currency reserves — already at critically low levels — fall nearly 10 percent last month.
Despite this, the Iranian leader was publicly warned on Tuesday against interference by Shiite Iran in the affairs of the mostly Sunni Arab Gulf nations. Egypt’s most prominent cleric, the sheik of al-Azhar, also urged Iran to halt efforts to spread Shiite Islam.
It is the first trip by an Iranian leader in more than three decades. The two countries severed relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution, but after fall of Egypt’s close US ally Hosni Mubarak and last summer’s election of an Islamist president, the two countries have grown closer.