In his first speech to the U.N., the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had a great opportunity to reflect upon the hopes of the new Egypt. Unfortunately, President Morsi let this opportunity slip away.
I would have expected President Morsi to start his talk by sending condolences to the American people for the killing of U.S. diplomats and to the whole world for the killing of many innocent people in the recent Muslim riots against the film about the Prophet Muhammad.
Instead, the main focus of Mr. Morsi was to denounce the film in a way that looked as if he was justifying the barbaric violent Muslims’ reaction against it.
As an Egyptian, I would have expected Morsi to give most of his speech to discuss the current vital concerns of Egypt and the Egyptian people. Instead, the president devoted most of his speech to address issues related to other Muslim countries such as Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.
Additionally, he considered the Palestinian — NOT the Egyptian — issue to be his first priority. Had I not known that Morsi was the president of Egypt, I would not have figured it out from his speech as he rarely mentioned the challenges that face Egypt compared to mentioning problems facing other Arab countries?
It seemed as if Morsi was trying to establish himself as the leader of the Islamic caliphate rather than as the president of Egypt.
I also would have expected President Morsi to make a reference to the historical dimension of ancient Egypt as one of the earliest civilizations in the world in the context of welcoming tourists to come back to the country to improve its deteriorating economy.
But it seemed that the president preferred to talk about the Arabic and Islamic dimensions of the country without addressing such a great historical dimension. This seemed to me as if Morsi, like many Islamists, is not proud of this ancient Egyptian history because the Pharaohs are seen by them as "infidels."
The president of Egypt denounced freedom of speech in the West if it insults the beliefs of others. It is common to hear Islamists in Egypt insulting Jews and Christians on mainstream media, yet we have not seen any strong action from Morsi against them. Do limitations of freedom of speech — in Morsi’s view — apply only when Islam is insulted — but not the other way around?
Additionally, when Morsi addressed the problem of the Muhammad film he focused on criticizing the action — NOT the reaction. Would the Egyptian president also blame the action or the reaction if after the famous Muslim scholar Sheikh Wagdi Ghoneim had publically disrespected and insulted Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church, Christians all over the world burned Mosques, destroyed Egyptian embassies, and killed an Egyptian ambassador?
I do not have any doubt that Morsi in such a case would blame the hysterical reaction against the insult rather than the action or the insult itself.
Morsi was clear in his stand against any discrimination against Muslims. Is he also ready to stop discrimination against the Bahia community in the country who are likely to be deprived from their basic religious rights in the new constitution of Egypt that is currently prepared by the Islamists’ friends of Morsi?
President Morsi could not unconditionally accept human rights, and he wanted the West to respect Muslims’ culture and not to intervene to enforce their foreign cultural values on the Arab and Muslim world. Is he, for example, expecting that the U.S. MUST respect female genital mutilation, pedophilia, stoning of adulteries, beating women, killing homosexuals, anti-Semitism, and violent Jihad, as these, generally speaking, are accepted values in the Arab and Muslim culture?
Following the footsteps of the Muslim Brotherhood, President Morsi avoided mentioning the word Israel (as if its name is an insult!) when he addressed the Palestinian problem. Interestingly, Morsi cannot totally avoid mention the word Israel as it is mentioned 40 times in the Koran (many of them in a positive context!).
To conclude, Morsi’s first speech to the U.N. is below expectations and missed a chance to position Egypt as a country that will move forward in the path of freedom, and liberty.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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