Tensions are running high between Cairo and Teheran, all because of the Iranian film ‘Assassination of a Pharaoh’ that recounts the assassination of former Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat in 1981. In the film, the assassin, Khaled Islambouli, is treated as a martyr whereas the ex-head of state is portrayed as a traitor for having signed the Camp David Agreements in 1978 – a document whereby Egypt officially recognised Israel.
The Egyptian reaction was swift. On July 9, the government summoned an Iranian representative to Cairo demanding information about the film. The Egyptian press – especially the official press – fell on the issue, calling it a scandal and threatening to make a film to destroy the image of the late Imam Khomeini, leader of the Iranian revolution. “I don’t think they’ll go through with it,” declared Egyptian journalist Tarek Mounir.
Astonishingly, Egypt chose to act in response to the film by way of sport. Through its president Samir Zaher, the Egyptian Federation of Football announced that it was cancelling the friendly game between the Egyptian and Iranian teams, due to be held in the United Arab Emirates on August 20. The International Federation of Football (Fifa) has not yet passed judgment. “What we are seeing today is what I would call a syndrome of ‘diplomacy in football.’ Given the popularity of this sport in the Arab world, cancelling a match is a way of showing you’re unhappy with something,” concl… >>>