MEMRI's January 3, 2013 release of Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi's antisemitic statements from March 2010, in which he called the Jews "descendants of apes and pigs" and rejected the possibility of peace with them, was reported worldwide. The antisemitic statements prompted condemnation and a demand for a retraction by the U.S. administration.
President Mursi's response included claims that his words were taken out of context, in addition to a statement that he "does not accept... derogatory statements regarding any religion"; the U.S. administration deemed this "an important first step." Mursi also implied that he was being victimized by the U.S. media run by the Jews.
President Mursi's Antisemitic Comments Reported Worldwide
On January 11, Forbes published an article by contributing editor Richard Behar about the MEMRI TV clip and Mursi's statements in it. The article noted that although Fox News channel had already reported on it, the mainstream media were remaining silent on the statements despite their newsworthiness, and asked why they had not picked up the story.
On January 14, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in The Atlantic about the MEMRI TV clip, echoing the Forbes article's criticism of the lack of media coverage.
Finally, on January 15, The New York Times published, on its front page, an article about Mursi's comments; the article included the MEMRI TV clip.
Following Media Reports, White House, State Dept, Canadian FM, U.S. Senators Condemn Mursi's Statements; Germany: Hurtful Comments "From Any Side" Unhelpful
White House, State Department Statements
Later on January 15, both the White House and the U.S. State Department condemned the statements that Mursi made in the MEMRI TV clip. At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney called the comments "deeply offensive." State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also called the comments "deeply offensive" and said, "We think that these comments should be repudiated, and they should be repudiated firmly." She also said, "We completely reject these statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred. This kind of rhetoric has been used in this region for far too long." (To view both statements, click here.)
Canadian Foreign Minister Condemns Mursi's Statements
In a CBC interview, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird condemned Mursi's statements, saying: "I think whenever you hear anything resembling that type of antisemitic rant, it causes us all deep concern. Those remarks were absolutely abhorrent, and obviously the government of Canada condemns any such remarks."
U.S. Senators Condemn Statements
On January 16, Sen. John McCain, who at the time was in Egypt on a previously undisclosed senatorial delegation visit, condemned President Mursi's comments but added that he would still support an aid package for Egypt. Delegation member Sen. Richard Blumenthal stated that the delegation had "expressed our view in no uncertain terms" that Mursi's remarks "counter the goal of the friendship between our two peoples"; delegation member Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "I was very specific and direct with President Mursi 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." She added: "The reports that have recently come to light of President Mursi's offensive remarks towards Israel and the Jewish people are troublesome and deeply disturbing. I was very specific and direct with President Mursi 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."
German Government: Aggressive Or Hurtful Comments "From Any Side" Unhelpful
On January 25, Reuters reported that in advance of a visit by President Mursi to Germany set for next week, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman told a news conference that he would "not comment on the remarks that have been attributed to Mr. Mursi." The spokesman added that "aggressive or hurtful comments from any side" were unhelpful.
In Meeting With U.S. Senators, President Mursi Implies He Is Victim Of U.S. Jewish-Run Media
In a meeting with President Mursi that was, according to Foreign Policy's The Cable blog, "highly contentious," Mursi implied that he was being victimized by the U.S. media run by the Jews. While according to the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram Mursi "apologized to the members of" the U.S. senatorial delegation, Sen. Chris Coons said: "He was attempting to explain himself... then he said, 'Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don't view me favorably,'" said. He continued, "He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I," adding, "I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion."
Coons continued: "The meeting then took a very sharply negative turn for some time. It really threatened to cause the entire meeting to come apart so that we could not continue."
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The report also noted that senators impressed upon Mursi that if he was saying that criticism of his statements was due to Jews in the media, such a statement was potentially even more offensive than his original comments from 2010.
President Mursi's Office Reacts: Statements Were Taken Out Of Context, And He "Does Not Accept... Derogatory Statements Regarding Any Religion"
The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and AFP reported that President Mursi claimed that his remarks had been taken out of context. In addition, the Global Post and Salon.com reported that Egypt was downplaying Mursi's comments.
When the State Department did not comment on these remarks, President Mursi's office released a statement in English saying that "the president strongly believes that we must respect and indeed celebrate our common humanity and does not accept or condone derogatory statements regarding any religious or ethnic group."
State Dept: Mursi's Statement "An Important First Step" Only
On January 17, the Associated Press reported that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland clarified that the U.S. was not convinced that Mursi no longer holds to the views he expressed in 2010, and that it needed more than the statement from Mursi's office.
She said: "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... That said, we look to President Mursi 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."
Worldwide Media Condemnation Of Mursi's Statements
Beginning January 15, leading newspapers condemned Mursi's remarks in their editorials and expressed doubt about his ability to play a positive role in the region. The New York Times editorial was titled "President Mursi's Repulsive Comments"; the Globe and Mail (Canada) editorial called for Mursi to "renounce his virulent antisemitic rants"; and the Los Angeles Times noted that "Egypt's [p]resident may have tempered his words on Israel since his election, but it's clear the sentiments persist."
Egyptian television channels ignored the controversy almost completely, with some reporting only the facts in the matter. However, on January 16, Tahrir TV interviewed Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who said that criticism of Israel is legitimate but racism is not.
A report on Mursi and his comments in Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster, prominently noted MEMRI's role in publishing Mursi's comments. The report included statements by a Middle East expert noting that Mursi's views were shared by Egyptians in general and that Mursi was merely reiterating what many Egyptians think.
In other mentions, an article on The American Interest website traced the trajectory of coverage and commentary on the MEMRI TV clip of Mursi's comments, and noted that Mursi's views are "completely mainstream" in Egypt. Also, in an article titled "Mursi, Anti-Semitism, and Free Speech in Egypt," the Council on Foreign Relations referred to the MEMRI TV clip and Mursi's comments in it.
Reactions In The Egyptian Media
Al-Shorouq: "MEMRI Undermines Egypt-U.S. Relations"
On January 18, 2013, the Egyptian Al-Shourouq newspaper published an article titled "MEMRI Undermines Egypt-U.S. Relations [By] Airing Mursi's Statements On The Jews." It stated: "A senior American official stressed that the current crisis between Cairo and Washington against the backdrop of statements attributed to President Muhammad Mursi [in] 2010 would not have occurred had The New York Times not used excepts aired by the MEMRI organization on its website that included President Mursi's defamation of the Jews and Zionists.
"Al-Shourouq has been informed that in late 2011 the U.S. State Department secretly gave a grant of $200,000 to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors news [items] hostile to the West and denying the Holocaust in the Arab media, as noted in the State Department announcement at the time."
Al-Balad Report On Statements By Former Egyptian Presidential Candidate: "Egypt's President Rules With A Medieval Mentality"
In response to President Mursi's statements, and other statements by him in 2010 calling on Egyptians to raise their children to hate Jews (view these statements on MEMRI TV here), former Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq, who ran against Mursi, criticized him on his Facebook page.
According to a January 17, 2013 report in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Balad, Shafiq wrote: "In Egypt, the president rules with the medieval mentality of a man from the prehistoric period..." Shafiq also called on Mursi to take the consequences of his statements "like a man" because his retraction of his statements only made him a laughingstock in front of the entire world.
Al-Dustour Editor: "Not Only Did Mursi Look Like A Racist – But His Statements Contradict [Islamic] Religious Law"
Also on January 17, Ibrahim 'Issa, editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Dustour, attacked Mursi for his statements, saying "Not only did Mursi look like a racist, but his statements completely contradict [Islamic] religious law." 'Issa explained that it is said that the Jews whom Allah turned into apes and pigs were only a small group that violated Jewish law and worked on the Sabbath, and that in any case they died three days after the incident and left no offspring. It was the Jews who kept the Sabbath and whom Allah did not punish who had descendants, he noted.
'Issa also stated that Mursi's hatred of the Jews was no wonder, since he and his supporters also call for hating Muslims who oppose them.
Prominent Egyptian Columnist: "It Is Very Clear Now, As Demonstrated By MEMRI," That Mursi Meant What He Said
The Saudi-based Alarabiya.net published, on January 21, 2013, a column by Egyptian author, columnist, and journalist Abd Al-Latif Al-Menawy titled "Mursi Needs To Admit His Real Stance From Zionists." In it, Al-Menawy wrote that the two MEMRI TV clips, as well as a 2009 article by President Mursi on the Muslim Brotherhood website echoing the same sentiments, clearly indicated that he had meant what he said. He wrote:
"The story goes back to a few days ago, when the United States strongly condemned anti-Israel statements Muhammad Mursi made in 2010 before he became president of Egypt, and in which he described Israelis as 'the offspring of apes and pigs' and called for supporting 'all forms of Palestinian resistance against Zionist criminals'…
"U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described Mursi's remarks as 'deeply offensive' and noted that they 'should be repudiated and they should be repudiated firmly.' Nuland urged Mursi to prove to his people, and to the international community, that he respects all religions, and added that such rhetoric does not become a democratic country…
"The Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which dug up the  interview Mursi gave to Al-Quds channel, and which contained the controversial remarks, seemed to have been offended when Mursi said that his words were taken out of context – a response that questions the institute's credibility. So [MEMRI] decided to post another video in which the president echoes the same views.
"Fellow journalist Osama Saber unearthed an article Mursi wrote on the Muslim Brotherhood's official website on January 10, 2009... before the controversial video, and in which he made similar remarks… It will be absurd if Mursi reiterates his previous excuse about his statements being taken out of context, because it is very clear now, as demonstrated by both MEMRI and Saber, that Mursi was beating around the bush [by doing so].
"We are all aware that those statements were not taken out of context, and that this discourse is very common among a large number of clerics and members of Islamist groups. Apart from the remarks themselves, I am calling upon the person who made them to courageously admit either the real stance he and the Muslim Brotherhood and their followers adopt or how mistaken they had been for all those years.
"It should not stop at that. He also has to ask Brotherhood members and all his supporters to stop using this language if he really believes it was wrong, as he said in the shy statement he issued to please the Americans – who will, in turn, see that Mursi has so far passed all tests they gave him. He and his group are expected to pass all the coming tests, because it is only power they are after and for that they will always fare well."
 On January 16, 2013, MEMRI released additional statements from January 2010 by President Mursi: Obama Insincere; We Must Nurse Our Children and Grandchildren on Hatred of Jews.
 On January 15, 2013, Richard Behar published a follow-up piece in Forbes.
 Some the numerous reports on the official U.S. statements included the MEMRI TV clip. The Washington Post reported on the official U.S. condemnation of Mursi's antisemitic comments, as did Reuters and Al-Arabiya; in its report, Al-Arabiya referred specifically to the MEMRI TV clip. In its report on the U.S. response, the BBC linked to MEMRI.org; Le Figaro/AFP and Middle East Online also reported on the U.S. condemnation.