A Tale of Two Speeches: How Egypt’s President Was Received in New York and Tehran

In both places, the Islamist leader of the largest Arab nation asserted his country's independence of foreign agendas. But he seemed gentler and more accommodating in the U.S.

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Mario Tama / Getty Images

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City on Sept. 25, 2012

Sitting and listening to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy speak at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on Tuesday in New York, I couldn’t help thinking about the first time I’d heard him speak in Tehran earlier this month. The Iranians viewed Morsy’s visit — before coming to the U.S. — as something of a victory and billed it as such in their media. So they were slightly appalled when he spent the bulk of his 45-minute speech lecturing them for supporting Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. His message was evident: I may be here, and I am open-minded, but I will not be used to promote any policy but Egyptian policies.

In New York, Morsy’s tone was gentler but just as clear. “The world that we live in is not unicultural,” he said, referencing American hegemony. “To understand one another, if we wish to coexist and prosper, we must learn to live with one another rather than dominating one another. The world we live in now cannot accept domination anymore.”

(PHOTOS: Mohamed Morsy Declared Egypt’s First Islamist President)

But at CGI, Morsy seemed more accommodating. Speaking in English — he did his doctorate and taught in California from the late 197os into the mid-’80s — the Egyptian President made the point several times that, while he is a devout man, Egypt’s fledgling democracy is not theocratic in nature. In fact, he has repeated the same message everywhere this week from Charlie Rose’s talk show to his speech at the U.N. on Tuesday morning. “It is a democratic state,” he said for the fourth time at the end of a question-and-answer session with former President Bill Clinton, “not a theocracy, not military government, not a secular entity. It is a civil state, the textbook definition of a civil state.”

He also underlined Egypt’s desperate need for investment, asking for help in promoting tourism, technology transfer, resource development and foreign direct investment. “I hate talking about loans, I don’t like loans. I like real investment,” Morsy said. “In Egypt, we are capable of protecting investors and their moneys.”

(MORE: Why the New Egyptian President’s Biggest Worry Could Be the Economy)

Morsy’s speech came a week after Egyptian security forces failed to protect the U.S. embassy in Cairo from protests over a California-made video insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Morsy has been working to undo the public relations damage since, assuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday that Egypt would do its utmost to protect the U.S. embassy and other foreign diplomatic missions and entities from now on. “This episode requires some reflection,” Morsy said. “As a Muslim, I believe human life is sacred. But [we] must also understand that physical violence is not the only form of violence.”

Morsy, who has come under fire in Egypt for attempts to limit the press, then continued, “While we must acknowledge the importance of freedom of expression, we must also recognize that such a freedom comes with responsibilities, especially when it has serious implications for international peace and stability.”

Still, Morsy might also reflect on how his speeches were covered in Tehran and New York. There was tussle and skepticism — as well as admiration — involved as the U.S. media followed him closely. Yet he was provided with a broad audience and clear opportunities to provide his side of the story. On the other hand, Iranian news reports substituted Bahrain — a country Morsy never mentioned in his speech — for Syria to cover his embarrassing criticism. They also reported that Morsy met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while in Tehran to talk about deepening ties. Morsy held no such meeting.

MORE: Egypt’s Morsy Urges Iran to Help End Syrian Crisis

42 comments
Amirex111
Amirex111

Also as I mentioned before the comment about Bahrain was only from one news channel. I am from Iran and I was watching it live at the time and my channel was correct with the Syria wording.

Fuuny enough your premise about this article is that the Iranian media distorts the news and the US is the example of truthfulness. The irony that you delete my comments showing your false points!!

Amirex111
Amirex111

Here is the link and proof they met:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articl...

Also regarding the Bahrain comment, it was just one channel that made the mistake not the entire media. I am from Iran and was watching live and the channel I was watching correctly mentioned Syria.

I know we in Iran are far off and sold to the media as terrorist but please don't spread propaganda. Do your basic research before writing.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

 I think I can speak for most Americans that we don't consider Iranians terrorist -- we like the Iranian people fine, it's the Iranian government we don't trust.

Feel free to return the favor!

Amirex111
Amirex111

We have shown the few American tourist that have visited that we like them and all Americans. But we all dispise a governent that is almost daily threatening war on us and placing sanctions that are inhumane!

Amirex111
Amirex111

Ahmadinejad did meet Morsi, how can you not do your basic research before you write?

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Morsy's educational background in the US will make him a liberal. But it will take time because he has to live with Islamists and Muslim extremists. He has openly attacked Syria. But he may hesitate to attack Iran. As far as the West is concerned, if he maintains friendly ties with Israel, as Mubarak did, Morsy will not be a problem.

JohnParish
JohnParish

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SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Have you listen to Morsy's speech when he addressed his people after the election?  

In it he proclaims Egypt as the new State of an Arab world.  That it is the first step in the reinstatement of the "Umar".  

Do you know what the "Umar" is, Ms Small?  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U...

Beware Ms Small.  You may be taken for a fool who embraces the next Muslim Caliph.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thought you'd like to know I made a contribution in your name to The Southern Poverty Law Center. Your name will be listed in their next report as having a contribution made in your honor. Seemed like a good way to counter hate speech.

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Great.  Since you seem to  have so much money, would you mind sending a check to the Red Cross, they are my favorite charity.

Thanks

superlogi
superlogi

No wonder Barry didn't meet with either Bibi or Morsi.  He hates Bibi and Morsi hates him.

Walter_Peterson
Walter_Peterson

IS Morsi the Gorbachev of the Middle East? A transitory  leader to something else? I don't know.  But "Islamic" Egypt is not set in stone.  It may be a work in process.

Mido Egypto
Mido Egypto

nice article .... big window over the world to communicate not to dominate

xexon
xexon

Morsy, an engineer,  was educated in the US, so he understands how to talk to Americans.

x

Ahmed Fathy
Ahmed Fathy

still ,Egypt didn`t failed on protecting the US embassy :D  we took our time to take action  wisely and the police  arrested the attackers and separated them from the peacefully protestors

P.S the whole time the embassy and the people inside it were totally secure and well  protected

Good article anyway

best regards   

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Well.... technically, they successfully broke into the compound but aside from that, your point is valid.

akpat
akpat

Well Morsi seems to speak common sense, unlike the GOP who want to dominate the world

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I just read what Halperin wrote in the "Who am I" piece!! Good for you Halperin. Never too late to tell the truth. 

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Wow, I did not know this Morsy dude could be so genial. I knew he was  a moderate but I am glad he had enough courage to speak to the "world" in the manner that he did.

BTW, Romney seemed beaten at the CGI.  Maybe being rich and famous is not enough for him any longer. Oh well. >>> http://www.thedailyshow.com/wa...

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Gosh, those Iranians act like Rightwing Republicans. They just change the facts to suit their message. Truth be damned.

sacredh
sacredh

"But [we] must also understand that physical violence is not the only form of violence.”

.

That's something that we may never be able to understand. They take their religion much more seriously than we do in the west. We might march, carry signs and shout at each other. they're willing to kill and blow themselves up. We just don't think alike and our frame of reference isn't anywhere near the same.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So true, but we're probably looking at it as a generational shift. Compare that to Turkey, another 'Muslim' nation that are far more moderate and where religious radicalism is fast approaching the way it is in this country; isolated and more like a fringe movement.

Middle East, for better and for worse is shaped by being forced into a global community and 'democracy' with the backdrop of having Israel there defending its right to exist and the fact that people need oil.

Hopefully there will be real democratic leadership coming out of their growing pains. By looking at Iraq that's not entirely likely yet.

sacredh
sacredh

It seems like we're always pinning our hopes on the younger generation.

sacredh
sacredh

shawnnyc, I grew up pretty poor but I had a good bit going for me. I was white, tall, blue eyes, not bad looking and fairly intelligent. I was also crazier than hell so it came as a shock to eveyone that I wound up choosing to work for the federal goverment and doing pretty well. They expected me to die young or else wind up in prison, so I exceeded everyone's expectations.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Yes - young are the way to go. But look at Iran in the 70's - there the young were co-opted by the radicals and the democratic dream died.

The question is if democracy can appeal better to young people than radicalism and that depends on if we can say 'hey American values are cool - hard work and money leads to your prosperity and 'fun'' as suppose to 'Step out of line and we'll keel you and keep enjoying your 20 percent unemployment'.

Roughly meaning - if we make democracy a bloodsport then they'll fall back on the 'safety' of a short life and radicalism.

shawnnyc
shawnnyc

that's because we are optimistic in nature, well at least the most of us.  We "expect" our sons and daughters to do better, in every aspect of life, than what we accomplished.  Maybe it's just my damn Asian parents inprinting this shyt in my head...any blacks feel the same? Whites? Browns?  Isn't the word "brown" really offensive?  I feel like yellow is just as bad, but that's probably b/c im Aisan.  I'm going wayyy of topic here...lolz.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

sacredh, would you care to reconsider that statement, given how many we have killed in our wars for oil and Israel just since overthrowing the Iranian prime minister in 1953?

How about how many we killed in Iraq, because of 9-11, which they had nothing to do with?

Glass houses, throwing stones...ring a bell?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Jesus Christ!

~

sacredh
sacredh

I know we've killed a ton of people. I know we've been in wars both just and unjust. I also think we make a huge mistake if we try apply our logic based on our valves that we've acquired during our lives that are nothing like the lives and value systems of a people that are just as foreign to us as we are to them. No, I stand by what I said.

sacredh
sacredh

I agree nfl. A person should follow their faith and be proud of it. Someone recently posted a link to cartoon on here that had Jesus's wife telling him to remember to get milk while he was walking across the water. I can't even imagine rioting in the streets because of it. People either laughed or ignored it.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

We should live our faith.  Anyone should.  But you don't have to kill others to do it.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

I agree... they actually LIVE their religion... our Bible says we are supposed to be willing to give our lives for ours, too.

We can't even get ours to stay past lunch on Sunday... if you observe us, we appear to worship at the church of the NFL Pre-game Show. 

That seems to be a higher priority.

sacredh
sacredh

JNS, you might want to change the date in the first sentence of the third paragraph.

Jay Newton-Small
Jay Newton-Small

fixed! thanks for pointing it out.

JNS

sacredh
sacredh

You're welcome and thank you for the articles.

Chosun1
Chosun1

The dude is old.  

sacredh
sacredh

lol. JNS just transposed a number. I did it on a check a few days ago. I wrote the date as 2102

anon76returns
anon76returns

Always better to transpose in the date field than the amount field!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

Those ungrateful Iranians!  After all we've done for them!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1...

~

ahandout
ahandout

 You mean what their mullahs have done to them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2...

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Go back further, into the early '50s, when Iran elected a Prime Minister named Mohammed Mossadegh.

He was taken out in a coup in 1953, orchestrated by the CIA, and encouraged by MI6, because he nationalized an oil company that had been under British control.

Fast forward to our support for Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran.

Now... why would they possibly have grounds to trust our motives, handout?

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

And the gall of them to remember events longer than a single election cycle...