Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi turned aside repeated criticism of his past comments referring to Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs” as he visited Germany on Wednesday, insisting that the remarks were taken out of context and were aimed at criticizing Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
A key focus of Morsi’s one-day visit to Berlin was to seek support to rebuild a crumbling Egyptian economy. However, questions about his comments – made in 2010 – hounded him throughout the day. The remarks drew attention earlier this month when an Egyptian TV show aired them to highlight and mock Morsi’s current policies.
A tight-lipped German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who earlier in the day had opened an exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and attended an annual parliamentary memorial event for Holocaust victims, said she had brought up the issue during her meeting with Morsi.
“The president told me what he meant by that, so I’ll pass it over to him,” she said during a short media briefing.
Morsi said he was “not against the Jewish faith or the Jewish people.”
He added: “My comments were about conduct that sheds blood and kills innocent people – things neither I … nor anyone condones.”
The controversy over Morsi’s comments reflects the collision between his long career as a leader in the vehemently anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood and his status now as a head of state in a country that relies heavily on Western support and has a peace treaty with Israel.
Anti-Semitic statements are easily found in Muslim Brotherhood writings. Usually, officials try to present their comments as directed against Israel, but at times they slide into outright slurs against Jews in general.
In the video, Morsi refers to “Zionists” as “bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians” as well as “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
Read more at ISRAEL HAYOM.