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From the September 1999 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 46, No. 09)

IRAN

Mean Streets

Joel Campagna, World Press Review contributing editor

The unveiling of a monumental mural in Tehran honoring one of the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has caused a ripple in Egyptian-Iranian relations, but cooler heads appear to be prevailing, writes Dina Ezzat in the semi-official Al-Ahram Weekly of Cairo.

The five-story-high mural of Khaled al-Islambouli, leader of the group that gunned down Sadat in 1981, adorns a building on a street named for the assassin. According to Ezzat, an "ultra-extremist group" had gotten the go-ahead from municipal authorities to paint the mural, which also boasts a Koranic verse urging Muslims to fight "infidels."

The flap occurred at a time when Egypt and Iran are seeking a thaw in their icy relations. The two countries have been at odds since Egypt provided refuge to Iran's exiled shah in 1979 and later made peace with Israel.

So far, Iranian officials have reacted to the controversial painting with a mix of embarrassment and contrition. "This is nothing that the Iranian government approves of, not at all." Ezzat quotes an unnamed Iranian diplomat as saying. "We are going to do all that we can to make sure that this situation is changed soon."

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