Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi said on Wednesday spiteful remarks he made against Jews and Zionists in 2010 had been taken out of context.
“As I have said before the quotes were taken out of context… I am not against the Jewish faith, I am not against Jews who practice their religion,” Mursi told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
“I was talking about the practices and behavior of believers of any religion who shed blood or who attack innocent people or civilians. That’s the behavior that I condemn.”
“I am a Muslim. I’m a believer and my religion obliges me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions and to respect the right of people to their own faith,” he added.
Berlin was alarmed by video content that emerged in recent weeks showing Mursi making the hurtful comments against Jews and Zionists, when he was a senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Germany’s Nazi past and strong support of Israel make it highly sensitive to anti-Semitism.
President Mursi flew to Berlin to try and convince Europe of his democratic credentials.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged him to open a dialogue with all political forces in the crisis-ridden Arab country after a week of violence which killed more than 50 people.
“One thing that is important for us is that the line for dialogue is always open to all political forces in Egypt, that the different political forces can make their contribution, that human rights are adhered to in Egypt and that of course religious freedom can be experienced,” Merkel told Mursi at a joint news conference.
Mursi is due to return to Cairo later in the day.