As a Muslim, a special Islamist card to extricate himself is available for play to placate the international community. But only by Washington pressuring him to repudiate his statements will the basis of an ugly Islamist claim be fully understood and why it creates a great divide between Islam and other religions.
It was reported Jan. 14 that as a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Morsi made slurious comments about Jews in 2010. In a speech, he proposed worshiping God by teaching Egyptian children and grandchildren to hate Zionists and Jews. In a later interview, he called them "bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."
Now attempting to distance himself from the comments, Morsi suggests they were taken out of context. His spokesman claims they stemmed from the emotions of the 2010 Israeli-Hamas conflict.
But, the group Secure America Now unsurprisingly discovered 2010 wasn't the only time Morsi made such statements. In November 2004, he said "there is no peace with the descendants of the apes and pigs." A 2009 article he posted on the Muslim Brotherhood's website called Jews "the sons of apes and pigs."
The White House has asked Morsi to repudiate his statements. He has yet to do so -- and for very good reason: It would undermine Prophet Muhammad's, and the Muslim Brotherhood's, teachings.
Muslims debate whether Koranic references to Jews as "descendants of apes and pigs" were meant literally, as statements of fact that Jews were actually transformed as such by Allah, or were simply metaphoric expressions. A Morsi response on this would support one side of the debate or the other.
In the Koran, Muhammad made three references to Jews as "apes and pigs." Chronologically, they reflect Muhammad's increasing anger with Jews for failing to take him seriously. Accordingly, while the first two references leave room for interpretation, the third was made at the zenith of Muhammad's anti-Semitism sentiment.
An early Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Sayyid Qutb -- executed in 1966 for his radical beliefs -- argued such debate irrelevant as Jews' minds and spirits fell into a beastly state. Nonetheless, he claimed Muhammad's reference meant Allah affected a physical metamorphosis of Jews.
Modern Muslim apologists disagree, saying Muhammad's words were metaphoric. This claim rests on inserting "as" after "be" in the applicable verse, so "be apes" becomes "be as apes." But "as" doesn't appear in the Koran's original Arabic, suggesting Muhammad was, in fact, being literal.
Non-Jews should take no less offense as Muslim believers extend the context of these words to include "infidels." Thus, by refusing to accept all humanity equally, Islam demeans non-believers as less than human, creating a great divide between it and all other religions.
But a repudiation by Morsi would damage Qutb's, and Muhammad's, interpretation which the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to promote, perhaps triggering educated Muslims to question other Koranic interpretations as well.
Morsi dances around the issue, which is why Washington must keep pressing him for a repudiation -- although he still can play a "get out of this dilemma free" card.