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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid