UNITED NATIONS — Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi made his debut on the global stage at the United Nations on Wednesday, celebrating himself as the nation’s first democratically elected leader who was swept into office after what he called a “great, peaceful revolution.”
Morsi, an Islamist and key figure in the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, said in the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that the first issue for the world body should be certifying the rights of the Palestinian people.
“The fruits of dignity and freedom must not remain far from the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that it was “shameful” that UN resolutions are not enforced.
He decried Israel’s continued building of settlements on territory that the Palestinians claim for a future state in the West Bank.
The Egyptian president reaffirmed his country’s commitment to uphold its international obligations, foremost the UN charter.
Regarding the ongoing civil war in Syria, he said he will not rest until it is brought to an end.
He called the fighting there, which opposition groups say has killed at least 30,000 people, the “tragedy of the age” and one that “we all must end.”
And he invited all nations Wednesday to join the effort being led by Cairo in a bid to stop the bloodshed that began about 18 months ago when opposition figures rose up against President Bashar Assad’s regime. He and his father before him have run the country as a dictatorship for 40 years.
Morsi condemned the US-made video denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as an obscenity. He insisted that although Egypt is is favor of freedom of expression, that freedom does not allow for attacks on any religion. The Egyptian president called on the General Assembly to confront discrimination based on religion and race.
He also condemned the violence that swept Muslim countries in reaction to the video, including an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the American ambassador and three other US citizens.
Morsi’s remarks were in direct opposition to US President Barack Obama’s insistence on all countries protecting freedom of speech at the General Assembly on Tuesday.