CAIRO — A spokesman for President Mohamed Morsi said on Wednesday that inflammatory comments that he made about Jews before taking office had been intended as criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians but had been taken out of context. The spokesman said that Mr. Morsi respected all monotheistic religions and religious freedom.
It was Mr. Morsi's first public response to news reports that as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood he had made anti-Semitic statements about Jews and Zionists. A recently resurfaced video of a speech that Mr. Morsi gave at a rally in his hometown in the Nile Delta nearly three years ago shows him urging his listeners "to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews." In another video of a television interview he gave the same year, Mr. Morsi criticized Zionists in recognizably anti-Semitic terms, as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."