Egypt's top cleric voices Sunni worries on Iran

Feb 05, 2013, 12:35 PM EST
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks on as Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi shakes hands at the airport in Cairo, on Feb. 5, 2013.
(AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's most prominent Muslim cleric, the sheik of al-Azhar, has warned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against interfering in Arab Gulf countries or trying to spread Shiite influence.

Ahmadinejad, on a landmark visit to Egypt on Tuesday, received an uneasy reception from Ahmed el-Tayeb at al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's foremost Islamic institution.

El-Tayeb particularly warned mainly Shiite Iran against interference in Bahrain and said Egypt rejects any spread of Shiism in the Sunni world. El-Tayeb did not join Ahmadinejad at a press conference afterward to two held talks.

The iciness reflected deep Sunni supiscions of Shiites and worries over Iranian power in the mainly Sunni Mideast. Islam split into the two sects after the death of the Prophet Muhammed in the 7th Century.