Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s president, is an unbelievable man—in both senses of that word. Last month, the New York Times called him out for virulent anti-Semitic remarks in a speech he gave three years ago.
In it, Morsi characterized Jews as “these bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” He advised Egyptians to “nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred” of Jews and Zionists.
In my own research a few weeks earlier, I found that, two years ago, he remarked that Egypt’s treaty with Israel “talked about a just and comprehensive peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Where is that peace, and where is that state?” And he called on the Egyptian Parliament to review the treaty.
All of that caused something of a storm for Morsi, and while visiting Germany last week, he ran into serious questions during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He responded that his words were “taken out context.” One could ask, in what possible context would those words not be offensive? But Morsi went on to say he was talking “about practices. The behavior and practices of any person, regardless of his religion or place in the world to spill blood, kill the innocent, or attack secure people or civilians. These practices cannot be endorsed by me.”
So, the sum of that, apparently, was his concern about the violent practices of Israelis in their seemingly never-ending conflict with Palestinians. The Israelis do have questions to answer, but that immediately prompts another question: What about the violent practices in his own country—and by Islamic fundamentalists all over the place?
Almost contemporaneous with his news conference in Berlin, a video surfaced online showing a dozen Egyptian policeman beating and kicking a naked man in the street, and then hauling the injured man into a police van. Morsi’s office apologized. But there has been no apology for the rampant killing of Coptic Christians, the burning of their churches and the kidnaping of young Coptic girls.
Murder is evil and destructive regardless of who is responsible for the killing. But if Morsi wished to be taken seriously he would do well to condemn the killing by members of his faith, which are far larger in number, more indiscriminate, and more geographically widespread than those of any other religion. Indeed, the vast majority of the victims of those killings are Muslims themselves. Why Morsi cannot bring himself to use his international stage to vigorously condemn even these Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities is bewildering unless, of course, he is blinded by his own hate and ignorance.
There are ample recent illustrations of this Muslim-on-Muslim violence. In Afghanistan not long ago, the Taliban beheaded a 7-year-old girl. She had done nothing wrong. They killed her and a young boy to demonstrate their anger at recent Afghan police actions they didn’t happen to like, Afghan police said. In Pakistan last week, a landmine killed two polio vaccination workers. In recent months, that Pakistani Taliban has denounced these vaccination drives, saying the health-care workers are actually American spies. They’ve killed at least 11 workers.
Of course, Morsi is not responsible for these atrocities. But before he characterizes Judaism as a religion whose adherents are inclined to spill blood and kill the innocent, perhaps he should look closer to home.