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Merkel takes Morsi to task over Jew comments

JTA

January 31, 2013 | 9:50 am

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at the Chancellery in Berlin on Jan. 30. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at the Chancellery in Berlin on Jan. 30. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a meeting with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to criticize his past remarks on Jews.

During their meeting Wednesday, according to German media, Merkel raised the issue of recorded remarks Morsi made in 2010 in which he called Israeli Zionists "descendants of apes and pigs." Morsi responded that the comments were taken out of context and said that, as a religious Muslim, he is "not against Judaism as a religion. I am not against the Jews who practice their faith," according to the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. Morsi reportedly said he is against religious practices in which blood is spilled.

Merkel's criticism of Morsi's remarks drew praise from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who was in Berlin to address a controversy over the center's Top 10 list of anti-Semitic statements of 2012 -- which included the work of rominent German journalist Jakob Augstein.The list was topped by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Cooper said Thursday he hoped Merkel's confrontation of Morsi would "send a signal not only to Egyptians but to leaders in Europe who show up to commemorations to dead victims of the Holocaust but unfortunately are all too absent when it comes to standing up for the rights of Jews."

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