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Egyptian editor summoned for anti-Semitic article
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) --A prominent Egyptian editor on Thursday defended his newspaper's publication of anti-Semitic tales about Jewish rites and said a French court's attempt to prosecute him for the publication amounted to "ideological terrorism."

Al-Ahram, one of Egypt's main dailies, said its government-appointed editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Nafie, received the French summons earlier this week over an article the paper published nearly two years ago. The article repeated centuries-old anti-Semitic myths that Jews use Christian blood in their rites.

The Egyptian press, much of it controlled by or close to the government, often has been accused of stepping over the line from criticism of Israeli policies to attacks on Jews and Judaism.

Nafie devoted almost an entire page of Al-Ahram's daily Arabic edition and a shorter column in its weekly English edition to his defense Thursday.

Marc Levy, a lawyer for the Paris-based International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, said the group had considered filing a complaint when the article was found on Al-Ahram's website in 2000. He said the article was later removed from the web site, but that French investigators pursued the case after finding that 1,100 copies of the newspaper containing the article had been distributed in France.

French law forbids the "incitement of hatred and anti-Semitic violence."

Nafie said the October 28, 2000, article was based on 19th century legal and historical records of reports a rabbi in Syria killed a priest and used his blood for a holiday pie. The article, Nafie wrote, linked the tale to criticism of present-day Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

Nafie described the article in detail in his Arabic commentary, but did not refer to it in the English edition, which is aimed mainly at foreigners.

The court case "can be considered a form of ideological terrorism and a way to cripple freedom of the press in Egypt and the Arab world," Nafie wrote.

Levy, of the French anti-racism group, said the article was "shocking" because it implied that Israel's army today was carrying out ritual murders of Palestinians.

"It is offensive to truth and peace, everything we can imagine," Levy said.

Earlier this year, an article in the Saudi-run newspaper Al Riyadh described Jews as vampires who bake cookies with the blood of non-Jews. A follow-up article said that the Torah, the Jewish holy book, requires Jews to demonstrate their joy by eating pastries mixed with human blood.

After complaints from the U.S. government, Al Riyadh editor Turki Abdullah al-Sudeiri wrote that he regretted the publication of the articles because they were "not supported by any scientific or historic facts."

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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