Morsi’s speech at the Summit was packed with punches. First, he addressed the NAM Summit with a Sunni-dominating tone, referring to what Sunnis believe are the rightful successors of the Prophet Mohammed. The mention came along side the name of Imam Ali. As Ahram Online noted, “The reference to Ali, the most holy member of the Prophet Mohammed's family in the eyes of Shias, could have been perceived by Morsi's Shia audience in the conference hall as flattering had it not come after references to Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman, who are abhorred by Shias and whose role in early Muslim history is not even mentioned in the history books of Iranian schools.” Secondly, he criticized the regime of Bashar al-Assad, causing the Syrian delegation at the summit to walk out on his speech, only to return at the end. This is not a big deal as it is a general stance most countries in the Middle East take on the issue of Syria. What is important about the Syrian aspect of Morsi’s speech, though, is how Iran’s media handled its translation. It was as though the Iranian regime was expecting some sort of repercussions from their guests and was well prepared for it too.
While Morsi talking, the translators changed “Syria” into “Bahrain.” This seemed like proper damage control at the time -- until everyone noticed. Now the Bahraini government has recalled their chargé d’affaires and is demanding an apology for the mistranslation.
Upon his arrival at the Cairo International Airport, Morsi was greeted as “Suleiman the Magnificent,” in historical reference to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who conquered most of Persia at the time of the Safavid Dynasty (Iran). Frankly, it seemed as though he was voicing Saudi Arabia’s rhetoric and driving a deeper wedge between Sunnis and Shias, creating further religious polarization rather than trying to become a peacemaker in a time of dire need.
Plenty of articles have been written talking about how Egypt and Iran were not too fond of each other and how relations would not recommence anytime soon. More or less that seemed to be the case.
However, while everyone seemed to be preoccupied with the outcome of Morsi’s speech at the NAM Summit, few took notice of what Egyptian radio announced only days after it. According to a friend, the radio announced the start of direct flights between Tehran and Cairo — 28 times a week. This was something that had been done via trade but was now meant to be for travellers. The only evidence of it was on the Internet from the Fars News Agency, just days before Morsi’s speech. Normally Fars is considered not to be a trusted news source, but in this case it may indeed be telling the truth.By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Columnist