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Before Mursi visit, Germany condemns comments that hurt peace
Published Friday 25/01/2013 (updated) 26/01/2013 22:12
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Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is due to visit Germany next week.
(Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Germany has condemned all comments at odds with the goal of Middle East peace ahead of a visit by Egypt's president, whose vitriolic remarks against Jews and Zionists in 2010 when he was a Muslim Brotherhood leader have stirred outrage.

The utterances by Mohamed Mursi, who became Egypt's first freely elected leader in July of last year, were first reported by the New York Times earlier this month. Widely seen as anti-Semitic, the comments were condemned by the United States.

Next week Mursi is due to visit Germany, whose Nazi past and strong support of Israel make it highly sensitive to anti-Semitism. He is due to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I will not comment on the remarks that have been attributed to Mr. Mursi," Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for the German foreign ministry, told a news conference on Friday.

"But for the German government it is clear that reducing tensions and working towards a long-term solution is the top priority in the Middle East," he said, adding that this applied to Egypt as well. "Aggressive or hurtful comments from any side are unhelpful."

In a speech in 2010, when Mursi was a leading figure in the opposition Brotherhood, he urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists.

Months later in a television interview he described Zionists as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs". Footage of the remarks has been reviewed by Reuters.

After the remarks became public, Egyptian authorities issued two statements, the first of which said the comments had been taken out of context and stressed Mursi's commitment to full respect for religions and freedom of belief and worship.

The second statement said the Egyptian government rejected "all forms of discrimination and incitement to violence or hostility on the basis of religion".

Schaefer noted that since becoming president, Mursi had made clear that Egypt would fulfill its international obligations, including respecting its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

He also said Mursi's government had played a helpful mediating role late last year in bringing about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"We are optimistic that Egypt will continue to play a constructive role in the Middle East peace process," Schaefer said. "The talks that the chancellor, foreign minister and other government officials will hold with Mr. Mursi next week are a good opportunity to discuss these themes in a small circle."

Mursi is to meet with Merkel on Wednesday and the two leaders are to hold a joint news conference. The Egyptian president will also attend an investment conference and deliver a speech in the evening.
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1 ) Carlos / USA
25/01/2013 19:02
Mursi is a semite. Mursi was complaining about attacks on Palestinians. Palestinians are semites. He was protecting Semites. Unfortunately israeli semites were murdering Palestinians. Only in the ridiculous world of Zionism and West can Mursi be considered an anti Semite. His comments were directed at Human rights abuses by israel. He is right to defend his comments. israel was murdering Palestinians and Mursi is condemned. What a world we live in!

2 ) ian / australia
26/01/2013 22:22
"In a speech in 2010, when Mursi was a leading figure in the opposition Brotherhood, he urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists." What's wrong with this sentence? The quote ends before we learn who exactly President Mursi thinks Egyptians should nurse their children to hate! So the journalist fills it in: "Jews and Zionists". It's an important point because "Jews and Zionists" is a clever formula to make Mursi appear an anti-Semitic monster.

3 ) ian / australia
26/01/2013 22:22
(contd.) Hatred of Jews, all Jews, for BEING Jews, is anti-Semitism. Criticism of Israel or Zionism for the violence and criminality of its ACTIONS isn't. It's condemning BEHAVIOUR which would be condemned regardless of whose it was. "...these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs..." is certainly florid Arabic hyperbole but which bit, besides the fanciful slur against "apes and pigs" isn't true? So, has President Mursi expressed hatred

4 ) ian / australia
26/01/2013 22:23
(contd.) toward Jews, for BEING Jews, or incited violence against them, revealing his anti-Semitism? Of course not. It's Zionism and Zionists, the racist ideology and the violence done in its name that Egyptians should "nurse our children and our grandchildren" to hate.

5 ) @zios at maan / ............
26/01/2013 23:11
seems comments (i commented 3 times before this )on this post are blocked.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
27/01/2013 02:44
I don't see how the comments 'hurt peace.' Peace will come when Israel is destroyed. It's unclear to me how Mursi's comments postponed that event.
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