The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) announced on Wednesday its intentions to suspend trade with Turkey until a public apology is issued to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
“We have decided to freeze trade with turkey until the interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt stops and an apology to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is issued,” Mohamed Abdelftah El-Masry, vice-president of FEDCOC said.
This ultimatum follows remarks made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, regarding his disappointment in the Grand Imam for “favouring the leaders of the coup.”
El-Masry said the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is a religious symbol to the Islamic world and should be respected.
“When the Turkish government was facing problems [referring to protests that took place in Taksim square in May], we did not interfere so we are expecting the same treatment in order for us to have a balanced relationship,” he added.
According to El-Masry the volume of trade between Egypt and Turkey is around $5bn, excluding tourism and joint projects.
In his latest television appearance, Minister of Trade and Industry, Mounir Fahkry Abdel Nour, said: “there is a difference between political relations and economic relations… any serious investor is welcomed in Egypt.”
Abdel Nour added, during his interview on Al-Hayat satellite channel, which aired last Tuesday: “A Turkish textile investor visited me today and we discussed the possibility of him opening a new manufacturing facility that would help provide job opportunities for 3,000 Egyptians.”
El-Mary said that FEDCOC “welcomes any investor but right now Egyptians feel hostile and angry.”
Earlier this week the independent General Tourism Workers Syndicate urged Egyptians to suspend their flights to Egypt and Turkey.
“We are not a governmental organization. This was a personal initiative we announced before the Turkish Prime Minister’s announcements, but now we have a more powerful stand,” Hesham Shattury, the secretary general of the tourist guide syndicate.
“We hold no grudges against the Turkish citizens; however, we are very displeased with Erdogan’s announcements insulting Egyptian symbols such as General [Abdel Fatah] Al-Sisi and the Grand Imam,” he said.
Shattury estimated that the number of Egyptian tourists visiting Turkey on a yearly basis ranges between 30,000 and 40,000.
On Wednesday, the Daily News Egypt reported that the implementation of a market connectivity project between Turkey and Egypt, based on a memorandum of understanding signed 26 June 2012, was also halted.