President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney forcefully condemned previous anti-Semitic comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Politico reported:
‘President Morsi should make clear he respects people of all faiths,’ Carney said during a press briefing Tuesday. He said the administration has raised its concerns with the Egyptian government. ‘...We have raised our concerns over these remarks with the government of Egypt.’
‘We strongly condemn these comments,’ he said. ‘...This type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt.’
Carney added that the remarks are an example of the type of discourse that has long fanned hatred in the region.
‘We believe that language like that is too tolerated in the region,’ he said. ‘...It is counter to peace.’
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also pressed Morsi on his comments during their recent meeting:
The reports that have recently come to light of President Morsi’s offensive remarks towards Israel and the Jewish people are troublesome and deeply disturbing. I was very specific and direct with President Morsi deploring these comments, in addition to addressing Egypt’s relationship with Israel and Egyptian women’s rights. I will continue to follow these issues closely.
** Update January 17, 2013 **
The Obama Administration said that Morsi’s attempt to walk back the statements was not enough. The Associated Press reported:
The Obama administration said Thursday that a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency is welcome but not enough to ease concerns about anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments that the Islamist president made before he took office.
The statement by President Mohammed Morsi’s office rejects discrimination and incitement to violence based on religion. The State Department called it ‘an important first step’ but said the US continues to look for Morsi and other Egyptian leaders to demonstrate a commitment to religious tolerance and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
The US has said Morsi’s 2010 remarks - in which he urged hatred of Jews and called Zionists ‘pigs’ and ‘bloodsuckers’ while he was a leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood - are ‘deeply offensive’ and need to be repudiated.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland would not say if Washington is demanding that Morsi personally repudiate the remarks, but she made clear the U.S. needs to see more than the statement from his office to be convinced he no longer holds to the earlier views.
‘From our perspective, that statement was an important first step to make clear that the type of offensive rhetoric that we saw in 2010 is not acceptable, not productive and shouldn’t be part of a democratic Egypt,’ she told reporters. ‘That said, we look to President Morsi and Egyptian leaders to demonstrate in both word and in deed their commitment to religious tolerance and to upholding all of Egypt’s international obligations.’