News / Middle East

    Morsi: Speech Against Jews Taken Out of Context

    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Republican Sen. John McCain, presidential palace, Cairo, Jan. 16, 2013.Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Republican Sen. John McCain, presidential palace, Cairo, Jan. 16, 2013.
    x
    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Republican Sen. John McCain, presidential palace, Cairo, Jan. 16, 2013.
    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Republican Sen. John McCain, presidential palace, Cairo, Jan. 16, 2013.
    Reuters
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi says vitriolic comments he made against Jews and Zionists three years ago had been taken out of context, an explanation that fell short of a U.S. call for him to repudiate the remarks.

    The New York Times said it had obtained video of a speech by Morsi in 2010, when he was already a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement, in which he urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists.

    In a television interview that the paper said he made months later, Morsi described Zionists as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."

    Footage of the latter commentary was viewed on YouTube by Reuters.

    Morsi told a delegation of U.S. senators visiting Cairo on Wednesday that the remarks needed to be put "in the context in which they were said," his spokesman said in a prepared statement.

    That context was Israeli "aggression" against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the spokesman said, a possible reference to an Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

    Morsi's comments appeared at odds with the diplomatic, moderate image the Islamist leader has sought to convey since taking office last year and may stir unease among Egypt's Western allies, whose help he needs to weather a financial crisis.

    For Washington, which was a staunch ally of Egypt's former leader Hosni Mubarak until he was overthrown in 2011 and is now trying to build a dependable relationship with Morsi, the remarks will have made uncomfortable viewing.

    The United States provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid each year - support that flows from Cairo's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

    Strong disapproval

    Morsi has promised repeatedly to respect the treaty, a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East, since becoming Egypt's first democratically elected president last June.

    He worked with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to help broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza late last year.

    The U.S. delegation, led by Senator John McCain, said it had expressed strong disapproval of Morsi's remarks about Jews.

    "We had a constructive discussion on this subject," said McCain. "We leave it to the president to make any further comments on this matter that he may wish."

    Senator Richard Blumenthal said they had "expressed our view in no uncertain terms," and that Morsi's remarks "counter the goal of the friendship between our two peoples."

    Morsi told the delegation he was committed to freedom of religion and belief, his spokesman said, adding: "his Excellency [Morsi] pointed out the need to distinguish between the Jewish religion, and those who belong to it, and violent actions against defenseless Palestinians."

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that the language Morsi used was "deeply offensive" and that U.S. officials had raised its concerns with Egypt's government.

    Carney called on Morsi to "make clear that he respects people of all faiths and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt."

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.