Additional statements made by Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi before entering office, in which he accuses US President Barack Obama of lying in his 2009 Cairo speech and urges Muslims “to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews,” were published Thursday by media watchdog group MEMRI.
“One American president after another — and most recently, that Obama — talks about American guarantees for the safety of the Zionists in Palestine. [Obama] was very clear when he uttered his empty words on the land of Egypt. He uttered many lies, of which he couldn’t have fulfilled a single word, even if he were sincere — which he is not,” Morsi says in the latest clips, referring to Obama’s 2009 speech, delivered at Cairo University.
Morsi made the remarks in a speech in 2010 when he was a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure. These and other remarks were revived when an Egyptian TV show aired them last week to highlight and mock Morsi’s current policies.
In the same address, Morsi said: “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”
The new quotes — found, translated, reposted and transcribed by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) — emerged hours after the Obama administration issued a statement saying the Egyptian presidency’s clarification over a previous set of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments was welcome, but not enough to ease the White house’s concerns.
A statement by Morsi’s office rejected discrimination and incitement to violence based on religion. The State Department called it “an important first step,” but said the US continues to look for Morsi and other Egyptian leaders to demonstrate a commitment to religious tolerance and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
The US has said Morsi’s previous 2010 remarks — in which he urged hatred of Jews and called Zionists “pigs” and “bloodsuckers” — are “deeply offensive” and need to be repudiated.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland would not say if Washington is demanding that Morsi personally repudiate the remarks, but she made clear the US needs to see more than the statement from his office to be convinced he no longer holds to the earlier views.
“From our perspective, that statement was an important first step to make clear that the type of offensive rhetoric that we saw in 2010 is not acceptable, not productive and shouldn’t be part of a democratic Egypt,” she told reporters. “That said, we look to President Morsi and Egyptian leaders to demonstrate in both word and in deed their commitment to religious tolerance and to upholding all of Egypt’s international obligations.”
On Wednesday, Morsi sought to defuse Washington’s anger over his past remarks, telling a group of visiting US senators that his comments were taken out of context and were a denunciation of Israeli policies and not Israel itself or the Jewish people, according to a spokesman. The spokesman said Morsi told the lawmakers that a distinction must be made between the two.
Later Wednesday, after the State Department declined to comment on the spokesman’s explanation, Morsi’s office went further by releasing an English-language statement that said “the president strongly believes that we must respect and indeed celebrate our common humanity and does not accept or condone derogatory statements regarding any religious or ethnic group.”
Nuland said Thursday that her comments applied to that statement and not the spokesman’s remarks.
The flap is a new twist in Morsi’s attempts to reconcile his background as a veteran of the Muslim Brotherhood — a vehemently anti-Israel and anti-US group — and the requirements of his role as head of state, which include keeping the strategic relationship with Washington, which wants Egypt to continue to honor its 1979 peace deal with Israel.
Morsi has promised to abide by Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and has continued security cooperation with Israel over the volatile Sinai Peninsula and their border. In November, Morsi brokered a truce between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in November, a feat that won him warm praise from the Americans.