Morsi condemns anti-Islam video, violence

Sept. 13, 2012 at 2:42 PM
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BRUSSELS, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi condemned an anti-Islam video that sparked protests in north Africa and the Middle East but said it does not justify violence.

Morsi, speaking Thursday in Brussels between meetings with European Union officials, said he has spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama since Tuesday, when protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and got into the embassy's garden, where they removed a U.S. flag and replaced it with one bearing the Islamic declaration of faith: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah."

Morsi said he has called for the United States to "put an end" to a film produced in the United States that demeans Islam, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"We count on the U.S. administration and the U.S. people to take serious steps to put an end to that, because this is considered a crime against humanity and a crime against Muslims," Morsi said. "But at the same time we firmly say that this cannot be taken as a justification to assault consulates or embassies and cannot be taken also as a justification for killing innocent people."

Diplomatic tensions between Egypt and the United States have been tense since Tuesday's embassy attack, the Journal said.

Obama, in an interview Wednesday with the Spanish-language channel Telemundo, said it would "be a real big problem" if the Egyptian government fails to protect the U.S. Embassy.

"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy.

"They were democratically elected. I think we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident, to see how they respond to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel," he said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday Egypt is "a longstanding and close partner of the United States and we have built on that foundation in supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government."

"We do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt," he said. "Ally is a legal term of art. As I said, we do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, like we do, for example, with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is. Just last night, as you know, the president spoke with President Morsi and reviewed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt while making clear our mutual obligations including the protection of diplomats."

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Morsi, in a phone call with Obama, pledged to "honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel."

Hundreds of demonstrators scuffled Thursday with police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, The New York Times reported. The Times said Egypt's state news agency reported 13 people were injured.

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