Egypt’s Mufti slams reports of handshake with Israeli president

December 7th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Dec 7 (DPA) Egypt’s top Muslim cleric Mohammed Tantawi responded furiously to reports of his handshake with Israeli President Shimon Peres, a newspaper reported Sunday. Both Israeli dailies Maariv and Haaretz reported that Tantawi approached Peres. According to the independent Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm, the Mufti called editors of the Israeli newspapers “liars.”

Tantawi, who heads Cairo’s al-Azhar University, had said that he had not recognised the Israeli president when he shook hands with him “accidentally” at an interfaith conference in New York City last month.

His comments come amidst a media row in Egypt, which presented the “unacceptable handshake” as tantamount to al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, accepting normalisation with Israel at the expense of Palestinians.

“The hand that shook Peres’ hand is tainted with the blood of Palestinians and reeks of the smell of their corpses and remains,” wrote Egyptian columnist Fahmi Huwaidi.

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