CAIRO — The Turkish-Egyptian political conflict escalated Sept. 24 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech to the UN General Assembly. Erdogan criticized the current Egyptian regime, describing its rise as a coup d’état. Egyptians frowned upon the statement, viewing it as interference in Egyptian internal affairs. The Egyptian diplomatic corps, highly angered by the speech, responded through official statements, which for the first time deviated from the usual diplomatic wording and accused Erdogan of funding terrorist groups.
Turkish-Egyptian tensions took on a new dimension, reaching the religious establishment of Al-Azhar, based in Cairo, after the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs announced its intention to build an Islamic university similar to Al-Azhar. According to Turkish officials, the university will replace Al-Azhar, whose role in the Islamic world has diminished. The move has awakened the ire of religious circles in Egypt.