Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prayed and wepts beside the tomb of Sayyida Zeinab, daughter of Shia Islam’s central figure Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, in Cairo. Ahmadinejad is on his first trip to Egypt this week. (Ahram Online)
On a historic visit to Egypt on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the mosque and mausoleum of Sayyida Zeinab in the capital’s Old Cairo district, where he cried beside the Muslim matriarch’s tomb.
Sayyida Zeinab was the daughter of Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, the central figure of Shia Islam and the cousin of Islam’s Prophet Mohamed.
Ahmadinejad, currently visiting Cairo for the very first time to attend this year’s summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), greeted the mosque’s superintendents with hugs and kisses on Tuesday. After praying inside the mosque, he headed to the adjacent mausoleum where he cried and prayed next to Sayyida Zeinab’s tomb.
As he exited the mosque, Ahmadinejad hugged and kissed several children he found there, praising them for performing their prayers at such a young age.
Ahmadinejad received a frostier welcome earlier in the day when he met with Ahmed El-Tayeb, the head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of religious learning in the Sunni-Muslim world.
El-Tayeb used the occasion to tell the Iranian president that he rejected the spread of Shia influence in Sunni-Muslim countries, calling on Tehran to “stop interfering in the Gulf,” according to an Al-Azhar statement.