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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:18 UK

Spat over Iranian film on Sadat

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News

President Anwar Sadat, pictured in 1980
Sadat was assassinated by Islamist soldiers during a military parade

An Iranian TV station has had its Cairo office raided by police, the latest victim of a spat over a film on President Anwar Sadat's assassination.

The Iranian film has sparked a steady stream of angry reactions in Egypt. It was produced by an Iranian organisation that regards the assassins as heroes.

Anwar Sadat was killed in 1981 after he signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Tehran has sought to distance itself from the film, but that has not helped improve feelings towards Iran in Egypt.

Cairo severed diplomatic ties with Tehran after the Islamic revolution in 1979 and relations have remained tense ever since.

Match cancelled

The head of the Cairo bureau of al-Aalam, an Arabic satellite channel financed by Iran, told the BBC that police had raided the office and confiscated equipment earlier this week.

Ahmad al-Siyoufi said the police had confiscated a camera and a computer because the network had no licence to operate in Egypt.

He said the network had been working in Egypt for the past four years and had been promised a licence, but never got one.

On its website, al-Aalam denied suggestions that it had been involved in producing the documentary, called The Execution of the Pharaoh.

Last week, a friendly football match with Iran was cancelled after the Egyptian foreign ministry summoned the Iranian charge d'affairs and protested against the film.

Collision course

Iran's glorification of the assassins of Mr Sadat has long been one of the main obstacles to normalising diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The issue is not merely symbolic, it also underlines the huge gap between the foreign policies of the two states.

Sadat placed Egypt firmly in the pro-Western camp in the Middle East, while the Islamic revolution put Iran on a collision course with the West.

There is a huge mural in Tehran depicting the young officer who organised the assassination and a street is named after him.

Over the past few years there has been talk of improving ties between the two countries and diplomats have spoken of the prospect of restoring full diplomatic relations.

But so far Iran has failed to change the name of the street - and now the row over the film is unlikely to bring the prospect of normal ties between Egypt and Iran any closer.


SEE ALSO
Timeline: Egypt
31 May 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Egypt
18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles


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