Mohammad El-Baradei

Egyptian opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohammad El-Baradei has spoken out against the restrictions imposed on Iranian tourists visiting his country.

El-Baradei, who was the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has written on his Twitter account: “How come Sunnis and Shias go to Haj together but at the same time we forbid Iranians from pilgrimage to other holy places?”

The first group of Iranian tourists to visit Egypt in three decades arrived on Saturday March 30. According to local media, Iranian tourists are under strict security supervision for their own protection.

Egypt’s deputy foreign minister had announced that Iranian tourists are restricted to visiting certain southern cities and resorts around the Red Sea and they are forbidden from visiting Cairo.

The restrictions have been justified as measures to prevent potentially tense confrontations between the Shia tourists and Sunni Egyptians at religious sites.

A spokesman for the Salafi Muslims in Egypt had previously announced that they are opposed to the presence of Iranian tourists in Egypt, citing animosity between the two Muslim denominations. He maintained that Iranian tourists would try to advertise their religion, but the foreign ministry has stressed it has no fear that Iranian tourists will try to export their Revolution to Egypt.

Meanwhile, on Sunday March 31, Iran lifted visa restrictions for Egyptians visiting Iran.