The Syrian government summoned Tuesday the US and French ambassadors to Damascus to protest both countries' criticising as "anti-Semitic" remarks by President Bashar Assad, said reports.
Assad was branded anti-Semitic and racist by Israeli President Moshe Katzav -- and criticized by the United States and France -- for telling the pope on Saturday that Israelis today had the same mentality as the Jews who betrayed Jesus Christ.
Seeing the pope off at the end of a four-day visit to Syria, Assad seized the chance to respond to the criticism, saying: "There are many people in this world who are still afraid to even mention the historic facts and international resolutions, accusing us, the Semites, of being anti-Semitic."
The young Syrian leader was quoted by Reuters as saying that those people were "adopting double standards, using the logic of might and arrogance instead of using the logic of right and justice.”
Syrian officials were quoted in reports as saying the remarks were taken out of context and that Assad was referring to the atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinians and other Arab people.
Israel attacked a Syrian radar post in Lebanon in April, killing at least one serviceman.
During his visit, the pope also took the opportunity to urge Assad, who took power on the death of his father Hafez Al Assad last July, to introduce political reforms and freedoms in Syria.
The pope arrived later in Malta in the last leg of a pilgrimage that has also taken him to Greece – Albawaba.com
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