Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mixed up the names of Egypt's democratically elected president and his ousted authoritarian predecessor when he tried to thank his hosts at an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday. He also asked his peers not to visit Gaza for the time being because it didn't help the Palestinian cause.
Abbas intended to thank Egypt for supporting the Palestinian cause. He began by saying "President Mohammed Hosni" then stopped short and corrected himself to say "Mohammed Morsi." Morsi remained mostly stone-faced during the gaffe except for a slight movement of the mouth that hinted at disapproval.
Morsi frequently mentions that he is Egypt's first freely elected leader after the 2011 uprising that ended nearly three decades of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian rule.
Abbas is one of more than 25 prime ministers and presidents taking part in a two-day summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo, which brings together leaders from across the Muslim world.
Leaders speaking at the conference on Wednesday primarily focused on the French intervention in Mali and the civil war in Syria.
While in Cairo, Abbas hit out at leaders who make official visits to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, telling the Islamic summit on Wednesday that such trips deepened the schism among Palestinians.
His remarks follow recent visits to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar and the prime minister of Malaysia. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, a major sponsor of Hamas, said this week he too would like to visit the territory.
Abbas drew a distinction between welcome humanitarian aid for Gaza and "political visits that have an official character, as if there is an independent entity in the Gaza Strip".
Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it seized control from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by Abbas' Fatah faction at the height of a power struggle set off by the Islamist group's victory in 2006 legislative elections.
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