Over 50 Iranians head to Egypt via reopened route
search

Over 50 Iranians head to Egypt via reopened route

Visitors’ movements will be restricted due to objections from ultraconservative Sunni Muslims to ‘heretical’ Shi’ite tourism

A view of the Nile River. (CC-BY plusgood, Flickr.com)
A view of the Nile River. (CC-BY plusgood, Flickr.com)

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — More than 50 Iranian tourists visited sites in southern Egypt on Sunday amid tight security as part of a bilateral tourism promotion deal that has generated some controversy.

The tourists, who according to a security official arrived on some of the first commercial flights between the two countries in three decades, will be restricted in their movement following objections from some ultraconservative Sunni Muslims to receiving visitors from Shi’ite Iran. Members of the Salafi movement in Egypt consider Shi’ites heretics, and fear Iran is trying to spread its faith in the Sunni world.

After visiting the city of Aswan Sunday, the group is expected to travel to the ancient city of Luxor in a boat down the Nile on Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media.

On Saturday, a private Air Memphis flight carried eight Iranians, including two diplomats, to Tehran on the re-opened route from Egypt. The ministry of civil aviation said in a statement Sunday that the routes will operate in southern cities and Red Sea resorts, not Cairo.

Following the June election of Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, Egypt and Iran agreed to promote tourism between the two countries, in a sign of warming relations. Diplomatic relations were frozen after Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic Revolution.

Egypt’s Foreign and Civil Aviation Ministries have set regulations restricting the number and movement of Iranian tourists in Egypt, keeping Iranian tourists from visiting the capital Cairo — mainly because several shrines of revered Shiite figures are located there.

Iranian tourists would only be allowed to visit certain sites, such as the ancient cities of Luxor and Red Sea resort areas like Sharm el-Sheikh.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments