Ahmadinejad forced to flee mosque in Cairo as protester hurls shoes at him

During President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Cairo on Tuesday, the first by an Iranian leader in 30 years, there was unscripted discord from Sunni protesters angry over Iran's support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as decades of sectarian animosity between Shiite-led Iran and the region's Sunni majority.

Ahmadinejad was forced to flee an ancient mosque in downtown Cairo after a Syrian protester took off his shoes and threw them at him.

The Syrian protester was arrested by police following the shoe-throwing incident outside the ancient al-Hussein mosque in downtown Cairo, according to security officials.

Later, anti-Iranian protesters raised their shoes up while blocking the main gates to Al-Azhar, the Sunni world's most prestigious religious institution, where Egypt's most prominent cleric chided Ahmadinejad for interfering in the affairs of Sunni nations.

Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, also denounced what he described as the "spread of Shi'ism in Sunni lands". Tayyeb, who made the remarks after meeting Ahmadinejad, said "the Iranian president respect Bahrain as a brotherly Arab nation, and not interfere in the affairs of Gulf states". He also said Ahmadinejad must uphold the rights of his Shi'ite-ruled country's Sunni minority.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Ahmadinejad gave a news conference at Al-Azhar in which he said he "came from Iran to say that Egypt and its people have their place in the heart of the Iranian people".

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