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Egypt's presidency denies pressure from hardline Salafis spurred suspension of Iran tourism

  • Egyptian protesters try to destroy the gate at the residence of Iran’s top diplomat in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. The protest was sparked after Iranian tourists arrived in Egypt this week on the first commercial flights between the two countries in 30 years. Arabic reads,"we will not let Shiites step in Egypt." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Egyptian protesters try to destroy the gate at the residence of Iran’s top diplomat in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. The protest was sparked after Iranian tourists arrived in Egypt this week on the first commercial flights between the two countries in 30 years. Arabic reads,"we will not let Shiites step in Egypt." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

  • Egyptian protesters raise their shoes and shout anti-Iran slogans during a protest at the residence of Iran’s top diplomat to protest the Egyptian government’s attempt to improve ties with Tehran in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Egyptian protesters raise their shoes and shout anti-Iran slogans during a protest at the residence of Iran’s top diplomat to protest the Egyptian government’s attempt to improve ties with Tehran in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dozens of mostly ultraconservative Muslim protesters shout anti-Iran slogans and hang a Syrian revolution flag outside the residence of Iran’s top diplomat to protest the Egyptian government’s attempt to improve ties with Tehran in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. An Iranian flag seen at background. Arabic on banner reads "we will not let Shiites step in Egypt." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    Dozens of mostly ultraconservative Muslim protesters shout anti-Iran slogans and hang a Syrian revolution flag outside the residence of Iran’s top diplomat to protest the Egyptian government’s attempt to improve ties with Tehran in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, April 5, 2013. An Iranian flag seen at background. Arabic on banner reads "we will not let Shiites step in Egypt." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

Egypt's presidential spokesman says tourist flights from Iran were not suspended because of pressure from "any particular groups."

Ehab Fahmy's comments come after an outcry by hardline Sunni Muslims, known as Salafis, who were angered by the Egyptian government's push to improve ties with Shiite Iran.

The spokesman did not explain why the flights were suspended until June.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo on Wednesday, he said Egypt's first concern with Iranian tourists is ensuring that their visits do not affect the country's sovereignty.

"Egypt is Sunni and will remain a Sunni bastion of moderation and centrism in Islam," he said, referring to concerns by some Salafis that the Iran aims to spread its practices among Sunni Muslims.

He added that President Mohammed Morsi does not make decisions under pressure.