Morsi: 'Zionist' comment out of context, not against Jews
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi insisted here Wednesday he had nothing against Judaism and that comments on Israel attributed to him before he was elected had been "taken out of context".
Speaking through an interpreter at a joint press conference after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said, as a Muslim, his faith compelled him to respect religions.
"The quotes, which about three weeks ago were spread in the media, are, as I had previously explained, taken out of their context," he told reporters.
"I am not against Judaism as a religion, I am not against the Jews who practise their religion," he added.
Questioned whether she had discussed the remarks with Morsi, Merkel only said that she had and that the president had explained what he had meant.
According to a TV clip released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Morsi refers in a 2010 interview to "occupiers of Palestine" as "blood suckers and warmongers, and descendants of pigs and apes."
"We must resist them with all forms of resistance. A military resistance in Palestine against these Zionist criminals assaulting the land of Palestine and Palestinians," he says in the remarks to Quds Channel three years ago.
Morsi said the speech was about "the behaviour and practices" when believers cause blood to be spilled or the innocent, such as civilians, are attacked "that is behaviour that I condemn", he said.
"I am Muslim, I am religious, and my religion compels me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions, and to respect the right of humans to freedom of belief," he added.
Germany has long been considered Israel's closest ally in Europe with ties rooted in the country's bid for atonement over the Nazi Holocaust.
© 2013 AFP