Egypt, Iran spar over 'incitement' ad

Student group's ad offered $1 million to anyone who would assassinate Mubarak [The Media Line].

Mubarak 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Mubarak 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt is demanding Iran bring to justice the authors of an advertisement calling on Iranians to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The advertisement was published by the Iranian Fars News agency on Sunday by a student group. The announcement was in Persian and offered a reward of $1 million to whoever would carry out the deed, against the backdrop of Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah border with Gaza. Egyptian government ministers, members of parliament and media commentators called on Teheran to bring the authors to trial, calling them inciters. Iranian officials said the authors were "extremists" who do not represent the position of the country and were out to jeopardize Egyptian-Iranian relations. They insisted that the Fars news agency was not official and did not reflect an official line. But Egypt said the matter could be tolerated. Mu'stafa Al-Fiqqi, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee in the Egyptian parliament, said the provocateurs should be penalized for their actions, explaining that incitement to murder was a crime punishable by both international and state law. As to Teheran's insistence on disassociating itself with Fars, Al-Fiqqi said, "In a state like Iran it is impossible to talk about news agencies or organizations that are not under state control," he said. "This is not Britain or the United States. This is Iran and everything there is planned and organized. If something comes out of Iran, the authorities know about it and can stop it and if there's incitement, the state is responsible," he said. Cairo and Teheran have had an acrimonious relationship for almost three decades. Iran cut its diplomatic relations with Egypt following the late president Anwar Sadat's signing of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel in 1979. Sadat's welcoming of the Shah of Iran following the collapse of his regime in 1979 sharpened the tensions between the two countries. This was compounded when Iran named a street after Khalid Al-Islambouli, the man who assassinated Sadat in 1981. More recently, Egypt and Iran have expressed willingness to restore diplomatic ties. Analysts say any thaw in these relations would be subtle rather than drastic, so as not to jeopardize Egypt's delicate relations with the United States. Tension recently surged between Iran and Egypt over the latter's involvement in the Gaza crisis.