The Obama administration has issued a “blistering” condemnation of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s anti-Jewish slurs and called for him to repudiate his comments.
But a Morsi spokesman insisted the remarks were taken out of context and a visiting US Congressional delegation confirmed that it will press for an further $480 million in assistance to aid Egypt’s ailing economy.
“We think that these comments should be repudiated and they should be repudiated firmly,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
“We completely reject these statements as we do any language that espouses religious hatred,” she told reporters. “This kind of rhetoric has been used in this region for far too long. It’s counter to the goals of peace.”
The White House said Morsi’s statements were “deeply offensive.”
“We believe that President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths and that this type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters:
A Muslim Brotherhood official in Egypt reached by The Associated Press refused to comment on Washington’s reaction to Morsi’s remarks. Repeated requests to respond to Morsi’s comments received no response.
The silence reflected the deep sensitivity of the issue for Morsi and the Brotherhood, which is fiercely anti-Israeli and anti-U.S.
Morsi’s comments have raised questions about the Brotherhood’s moderate pretensions, but some analysts suggested that any dismay at Morsi’s remarks is a reflection of many Western observers’ delusions about the Islamist group’s ideology and history.
The Brotherhood’s hatred for Jews “is a matter of religious principle, which lies at the heart of its creed and cannot be changed, revoked, or disregarded,” said Joseph Bishara, a Lebanese liberal commentator.
The group “which rose to power under obscure circumstances, is attempting to hide its angry, cold, and extremist face behind a smiling, friendly, and tolerant [mask],” he said.
The Brotherhood was “always honest abt deep hatred of Jews,” tweeted Eric Trager, an Islamist expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“That Morsi’s ‘apes & pigs’ remark is news reinforces how delusional [the mainstream] media’s MB coverage has been,” he added.
While some observers suggest that Morsi’s comments are driven by anger at the plight of Palestinians, the Brotherhood’s hostility to Jews predates the creation of Israel and reflects the influence of Nazi ideology, according to historians.
“The Muslim Brotherhood bears much of the responsibility for the fleeing of the Jews from Egypt,” said Khaled Fahmi, a historian at the American University of Cairo (above):
If you grab a copy of their Al-Nazir newspaper [from the late 1930s], the editor-in-chief of which was Salah Al-Ashmawi, you will see that there were many anti-Jewish articles – articles that did not distinguish between Zionism and the Jews. An article published in 1938 accused the Jews, among many other things… The article was titled “The Danger of the Jews to the Islamic and Christian world.” It accused the Jews of being the cause of British colonialism in India. It claimed that the real colonialists in India were the Jews, not the British.
During World War II, Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, was exiled in Nazi Germany, where he openly supported Hitler and served as a conduit for funding to the Brotherhood for the production and dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda.
The impact of Nazi ideology on the Brotherhood is evident in the group’s “unbridled authoritarian moralism,” according to Jeffrey Herf’s Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World.
Morsi is unlikely to retract his comments, observers suggest, at a time when the Brotherhood is facing a challenge from its ultra-conservative Salafist rivals in the run-up to forthcoming elections.
Legislative elections are supposed to be held within three months of the approval of Egypt’s new constitution, which was endorsed last month in a popular referendum.
“With talks among Islamist political forces over possible electoral alliances still underway ahead of Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist Nour Party are poised to once again field rival electoral lists,” Al-Ahram reports:
The FJP and the Nour Party, both launched shortly after Egypt’s 2011 revolution, first sought an electoral alliance in advance of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls just over one year ago..This time around, a reformed Nour Party – the political arm of Egypt’s Salafist Call – hopes to leapfrog over the FJP to win a majority in the House of Representatives (the lower, legislative house of Egypt’s parliament, formerly known as the People’s Assembly).
The Freedom and Justice Party this week announced that it will ally with Abu Ismail’s Umma Party and Emad Abdel-Ghafour’s Al-Watan Party during the elections, according to the Project for Middle East Democracy:
The FJP will not, however, join with Jama’a al-Islamiya or the Nour Party, according to sources within the party. Word of partnering with Umma and Al-Watan comes contrary to earlier announcements by FJP leadership, which had previously maintained that the party’s electoral lists would be comprised only of Brotherhood members.
POMED is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.