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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid