Morsi: Remarks about Jews out of context

Jan. 16, 2013 at 9:31 PM
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CAIRO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A spokesman for Mohamed Morsi said Wednesday the Egyptian president said anti-Semitic remarks attributed to him were taken out of context.

In a videotape of a 2010 speech before he became president, Morsi urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists. He described Zionists as "bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians."

The remarks drew a sharp rebuke from the U.S. government Tuesday.

"The president affirmed that his remarks were regarding the Israeli aggression on Palestinians in Gaza and emphasized that statements must be put into context," Egypt Daily News quoted presidential spokesman Yasser Ali as saying.

The Egyptian newspaper said Ali added Morsi said the Jewish faith and its adherents should be viewed separately from the aggression Palestinians face against their lives and property.

"The president reiterated his view that the basic principles of full respect to religions and freedom of belief must be fully adhered to," Ali said, "especially now that the Egyptian people have adopted a new constitution that grants adherents of heavenly [Abrahamic] religions full citizenship rights and the right to adhere to their religious laws in personal matters.

"The president also emphasized the need to build strong strategic relations between Egypt and the United States."

White House press secretary Jay Carney had said Tuesday the Obama administration condemned Morsi's remarks as "deeply offensive."

"We completely reject the statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred," Carney said. "President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt."

Carney did note Morsi has reaffirmed Egypt's commitment to its peace treaty with Israel and has shown a willingness to work to preserve peace in the region.

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