Mubarak Decries Anti-Islam, Christian Bias

The Egyptian president marked the holiest night of the Islamic calendar Tuesday, calling for greater tolerance for all religions and saying the world was wrong to equate Arabs and Muslims with terrorism.

Hosni Mubarak also said the global spread of terrorism and confusion over what causes it has led many to unfairly blame Arabs and Muslims.

"Propagating these allegations has entered a very dangerous turn, which has been represented in a new wave of hatred and hostile behavior against Arabs and Muslims," Mubarak said during a nationally televised speech delivered on "Lailat al-Qader," the most holy night of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadan, which is expected to end this week.

Mubarak, speaking to some 300 people, including turbaned Islamic clerics, in a Cairo conference center suggested it was unfair that attacks against Islam and Christianity aren't treated as serious as attacks against Judaism.

International sensitivity "toward the phenomenon of anti-Semitism should be similarly extended to the Islamic and Christian religions," he said.

Muslims, on the other hand, must also respect all religions if they want others not to hurt Islam.

"Showing keenness not to violate Islam should go along with showing greater keenness not to hurt other faiths," he said.

Muslims believe that "Lailat al-Qader" marks the day when their faith's holy book, the Quran, was revealed by God to Islam's prophet Muhammad nearly 1,400 years ago.

Mubarak's speech also touched on political affairs, criticizing foreign intervention — particularly Israeli and American — in the affairs of other nations under the pretext of humanitarian issues, self-defense or citing the international campaign against terrorism.

"This does not apply to the Palestinian question alone," Mubarak said in relation to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. "It went ahead to be applied (by the U.S.-led coalition) in the situation of Iraq, which needs an objective attitude to enable it (Iraq) to regain its security, stability, sovereignty and achieve the full withdrawal of foreign troops from its territory."