Iran: Egypt Protests Are Sign of 'Islamic Renaissance'

An Iranian Foreign Ministry statement lends support to the same scenario that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been publicly expressing concern over.

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Iran said on Thursday the anti-government protests in Egypt were a sign of an "Islamic renaissance" in the Middle East. and that they echoed Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.

The Foreign Ministry voiced support for the Egyptian uprising and said the protests would lead to the emergence of "a real independent Islamic Middle East", according to state television. "Iran supports the rightful demands of the Egyptian people and emphasizes they should be met," the official Irna news agency quoted the statement as saying.

The last week and a half have seen throngs of Egyptians take to the streets in the largest anti-government protest movement to sweep the country in the last quarter-century. Demonstrators are calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has served as president of Egypt for over 29 years.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaking in Ankara, January 17, 2011.Credit: AP

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said on Tuesday she had unconfirmed reports that up to 300 people may have been killed and over 3,000 injured in the unrest that has engulfed Egypt.

The Iranian foreign ministry statement called upon people and governments around the world to strongly condemn what it said were Israeli and American "interferences aimed at diverting Egyptians' justice-seeking movement, by creating counter-revolt and using rioters."

"Iran also warns that any opposition to the movement of the Egyptian people ... will bring about the anger and hatred of all Muslims around the world," the statement said.

Israel expressed fears earlier this week that protests in Egypt could put a radical Islamist regime like Iran's in power, jeopardizing Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

"Our real fear is of a situation that could develop ... and which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself -- repressive regimes of radical Islam," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu continued, adding that although the protests may not be motivated by religious extremism, "in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamist body can seize control of a country. It happened in Iran. It happened in other instances".

Iran is the only country in the region without full diplomatic ties with Egypt and analysts say Tehran hopes the fall of the Egyptian government could boost its influence.

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