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Morsi neither friend nor foe

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 24th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The President of Egypt is visiting the United States with a strong message. America will need to show greater respect for Egypt's values and help to build a Palestinian state, if it wants to improve relations with the nation.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mohamed Morsi, the new president of Egypt made these remarks in an interview with the New York Times. In the interview, he explained that anger and frustration towards the United States stems from an apparent lack of respect for Egyptian values and their Palestinian brethren.

Morsi is the first democratically elected president of Egypt and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a membership which landed him in prison under Hosni Mubarak. Morsi was also schooled at the University of Southern California, which helped to prefect his English.

The US may have preferred Mubarak in spite of his autocracy, as Mubarak was a staunch American ally.

Conversely, Morsi made clear that the US and Egypt were not allies so much as [just] friends.

Morsi explained that the US must respect the Arab world's history and values .

Last week, Morsi spoke with President Obama by telephone. The President was unhappy about Egypt's seemingly slow response to the violent protests outside the US embassy there. Morsi explained, "We took our time," to avoid backlash, but then dealt "decisively" with the violent element within the protests.

Morsi made clear that many in the region do not appreciate the US very much. "Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region." He said this was the result of backing autocratic regimes in the face of broad popular opposition, such as Mubarak's regime, and unequivocal support of Israel at Palestinian expense.

In the wake of the attacks on the US embassy, Morsi backed off a planned visit with Obama who offered a phone call instead. Morsi was in the US for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Part of Morsi's apparent agenda during the visit has been to emphasize Egypt's independence while not necessarily burning any bridges.

Morsi has already proven himself to be a capable leader, having managed to prise power from the military and ensuring that Egypt would be a democratic state. He told this to his interviewer, "The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the commander of the armed forces, full stop. Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern," adding, "we are behaving according to the Egyptian people's choice and will, nothing else -- is it clear?"

Morsi also emphasized that both cultures have a common goal, that is "to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion." He affirmed Egypt's commitment to peace.

He also emphasized that US commitment to building a true Palestinian state would be a major sticking point, saying the US has a "special responsibility" to ensure the withdrawal of Israeli troops and Palestinian self-rule.

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