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MIDEAST > Turkey, Qatar excluded from Cairo Islamic meeting: report

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Prime Minister Erdoğan had criticized Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmed el-Tayeb for backing Mursi’s removal.

Prime Minister Erdoğan had criticized Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmed el-Tayeb for backing Mursi’s removal.

Egypt has not invited Qatar and Turkey for a major Islamic conference due in Cairo later this week, according to a report published on March 22.

“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 at a press conference, gulfnews.com has reported.

Cairo will host a conference on March 25 on religious extremism, as Egypt continues a crackdown on Islamists in what the military-backed government portrays as a “war on terrorism”. Around 80 scholars from 34 countries and foreign Islamic organisations are participating in the two-day conference.

According to the report, 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 announced this month that it has recalled its ambassador from Qatar and will not send him back in the near future. The announcement 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 apologizes to Egypt and to his eminence Imam of Al Azhar, and changes its policy towards Cairo,” Jumaa reportedly said.

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 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish premier has condemned Mursi’s overthrow as a coup and called for his reinstatement.

March/22/2014

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