Essam al-Erian, a close adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, on Monday submitted his resignation following a storm over his call for Egyptian Jews to return to the country and leave Israel to the Palestinians.
The official reason for Erian’s resignation was a conflict of interest and a difficulty in balancing his responsibilities as an adviser with his parliamentary duties as the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
In a December 27 interview with Dream TV, Erian denounced the Jewish presence in Israel and said that Jews of Egyptian extraction “should refuse to live under a brutal, bloody and racist occupation stained with war crimes against humanity,” and instead return to Egypt.
The backlash in the country was both furious and immediate. The Egyptian Daily News reported that attorney Eslam Abdel-Khalek filed a complaint against Erian on behalf of the chairman of the Independent Teachers’ Union in Alexandria.
“He is a member of the Shura Council,” Abdel-Khalek was quoted as saying. “It is not right that he makes statements like these.”
According to Abdel-Khalek, Erian’s statements were reprehensible because they disturb the Egyptian public and threaten national security.
Responding to the complaints, Erian emphasized that his comments represented only his own views — not those of the government.
He justified the statement by explaining that the occupiers of Palestinian lands must leave in order for the Palestinians to return to their homes.
JTA contributed to this report.