Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, visiting Germany Wednesday as his country was in turmoil, was forced to address offensive remarks he made about Jews that emerged recently in a video.
Morsi's visit to Berlin happened to take place on the 80th anniversary of Hitler's rise to power. To commemorate that stain on Germany's past, parliament held a remembrance ceremony and heard testimony from a Holocaust survivor, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech atoning for the past at the Topography of Terror Museum, housed on the Berlin ruins of the dreaded Gestapo headquarters.
“There is no other way to say this: The rise of the National Socialists was made possible because the elite and other groups within German society helped and, most importantly, because most Germans at least tolerated their rise,” she said, according to The New York Times.
Afterward, Merkel returned to the chancellery to meet Morsi. At a joint news conference, she said the new Egypt must honor Israel's right to exist, and respect human rights and freedom of religion.
But reporters present weren't as diplomatic as the chancellor, asking the Egyptian leader what he meant when in the video he referred to Jews and Zionists as "the descendants of apes and pigs."
Morsi said his comments were taken out of context, the Journal reported.
"I am not against the Jewish faith, I am not against Jews who practice their religion," he said as Merkel looked on. "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 behavior that I condemn."
Morsi added, "My religion obliges me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions and to respect the right of people to their own faith."
“The bloodshed of innocent people is universally condemned, now and in the future,” he said, referring to Israeli attacks on Gaza. “The colonizing of the land of others is to be condemned as unacceptable, and the right to self-defense is also guaranteed.”
Meanwhile, a top aide to Morsi just called the Holocaust a myth, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
"The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented,” Fathi Shihab Eddim reportedly claimed in recent days.
Shihab Eddim reportedly is responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run Egyptian newspapers.
“U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created it [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb,” Shihab Eddim reportedly said.
He claimed that the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis moved to the United States during World War II.