Shah's son warned off Cairo ceremony

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The Independent Online
EGYPT has asked Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran, not to attend ceremonies to commemorate his father, who is buried in Cairo, according to Iranian and Egyptian sources. The request was made on security grounds, the sources said.

The deposed Shah died of cancer in Maadi military hospital south of Cairo on 5 July 1980. The late Anwar Sadat, then president of Egypt, cocked a snook at his country's Islamic militants by granting the Shah a final sanctuary after he was rejected by all his other former friends and allies following the revolution which had begun in his country the previous year.

The Iranian and Egyptian sources differ as to why Egypt asked Reza, who has lived in exile in several countries since his father was deposed, to stay away. Some say the reasons are internal. Egypt is concerned at an increase in unrest inspired by Islamic militants.

Muslim extremists shot dead two policemen guarding a government building in Dairut 180 miles south of Cairo yesterday. On Saturday a guard outside a church there was shot and wounded.

At the same time, Egypt has opened an interests section in Tehran. Iranian opposition sources say that Egypt is keen not to jeopardise the normalisation of relations with Iran. However, Egypt has not been afraid to speak out against what it regards as Iranian sponsorship of Islamic zealots in Egypt.

In recent speeches, senior officials of its ruling National Democratic Party have accused Iran, among other countries, of smuggling arms and giving financial assistance to the most militant groups in Egypt.

Meanwhile, a report by the New York-based human rights group Middle East Watch has accused the Egyptian authorities of regularly resorting to physical and psychological torture against political and security detainees.

'The detail and consistency of the testimony leave little doubt that Egyptian security authorities detain individuals incommunicado at specific locations throughout the country and, in numerous cases, have tortured detainees with impunity,' it says. 'The cumulative weight and detail of scores of cases over a period of years is suggestive not merely of a practice but of a government- sanctioned policy.'

The report comes shortly after one by Amnesty on the harsh treatment of political prisoners in Syria, and repeated reports of human rights abuses in Kuwait. Egypt, Syria and Kuwait were all Arab coalition partners of the US and Britain in the Gulf war against Saddam Hussein.