Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Egypt's Islamo-diplomacy comes to EU capital

  • Morsi: Barosso thanked him for coming to Brussels on his first official trip to Europe. But Morsi's first state visit abroad was to China (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi invoked the Koran while promising to protect visitors to Egypt after the killing of US officials in Libya.

Speaking in Brussels with European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday (13 September), he said: "We are eager to protect visitors, tourists, diplomatic missions, public and private properties. We are required by god to respect them and to be custodians of those vistors and we know that if one person is killed without justification, it is as if someone has killed all of humanity."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The pledge, which Morsi reiterated three times, is an allusion to verse 5.32 in the Koran, which can be translated: "He who kills a person unless it be [in legal punishment] ... [it] will be as if he had killed all human kind."

It is also an allusion to Arab mores on hospitality for travellers and pilgrims.

Morsi's statement is his first direct reaction to the killing of the US ambassador to Libya in Benghazi on Tuesday.

Initial reports indicate the Islamist group Ansar Al Sharia carried out the attack.

But popular Arab anger over a US-made film - the Innocence of Muslims, which mocks the prophet Mohammed - also played a part in the events, as well as in violent protests against the US embassy in Cairo this week.

The new Egyptian leader, from the Muslim Brotherhood party, portrayed post-revolutionary Egypt as a "modern ... civilized" place.

He noted that out of his five top officials, one is a woman and one is a Christian. "My team is made up of Muslims and Copts, women and men," he said.

He also interjected when Barroso spoke of respect for "all Egyptians, regardless of gender or creed" to add: "We are fully agreed on this matter."

But the two politicians sounded different when talking about the US film.

Barroso said he has "the deepest respect for Islam," but noted that "freedom of expression should not be confronted with propagation of hate."

Morsi said he told US President Barack Obama on the phone he should stop such films from being made: "I assure you after my conversation with President Obama that the American people is also against this [making offensive films]. This is a minority. I asked him to put an end to such behaviour."

The image of post-revolutionary Egypt is important for the country's economy.

Foreign investment and tourism plummeted in the wake of the uprising which toppled pro-Western dictator Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

Barroso said investor confidence is also important for stability.

"The Egyptian population has high expectations of democratic transition leading to social and economic benefits in the short term. These expectations are diffuclt to manage," he noted.

He said the EU will this year contribute €130 million for "job creation ... technical education" in the country.

It is also "considering" another pledge of €650-700 million to help Egypt to balance its budget and is "ready to start talks" on an EU-Egypt free trade agreement.

In other items, Barroso and Morsi urged Syrian leader Bashar Assad to step down.

"There is no place for a President who is killing his own people. No place," Morsi said.

He dodged a press question on whether Arab countries should intervene militarily, however.

The EU press briefing also skirted past the other big topic in the region: the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"We also mentioned Egypt's role in the [Middle East] Peace Process," Barroso said at one point.

It was the only reference to the issue amid Israeli fears that its old peace deal with Mubarak is under threat.

Morsi is due to meet with EU Council Herman Van Rompuy and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who invited him to Brussels in the first place, later in the day.

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda