ROME: Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Friday condemned a film which has sparked protests across the Muslim world as an "aggression" on Islam that distracts from the real problems of the Middle East.
"We cannot accept this type of aggression and attempt to sow discord. These irresponsible actions yield no good and draw attention away from real problems like the conflict in Syria, the fate of the Palestinians and the lack of stability in the Middle East," Mursi said during a visit to Rome.
"The Egyptian people reject and oppose any pernicious attempts to offend the prophet of Islam. Everyone rejects this. Americans also reject these actions, President Obama told me," the Islamist president told reporters.
Mursi, who was speaking as fresh clashes broke out between police and protesters outside the US embassy in Cairo in a demonstration over the film, also rejected the deadly violence that has erupted in recent days.
"We do not accept the killing of innocent people or attacks against embassies. All governments have the obligation to defend diplomatic missions.... We reject with maximum determination any type of aggression."
Protests over a trailer for the anti-Islam film on YouTube first broke out on Tuesday in Egypt and Libya, where the US consulate in Benghazi came under attack by an armed mob which killed the US ambassador and three other US nationals.
The protests have since spread across North Africa and the Middle East.
Analysts say that Mursi is being forced to walk a delicate tightrope over the last few days, keen not to be seen as too pro-American by his people while keeping billions of dollars in investments and aid flowing from the West.
Mursi on Friday said: "The Egyptian people are moving towards the world. They are opening their doors to East and West. All the doors are open."
"Islam respects other religions. It aims to protect freedom and respect human rights. That is what the Koran says," he added.
The Egyptian president also stressed the importance of business ties with Italy, thanking Italian companies for not leaving during the revolution.
During his visit to Rome, Egyptian and Italian officials signed seven agreements including a plan for bilateral economic cooperation and partnership deals in the tourism sector and for small and medium-sized businesses.
Mursi was in Rome after travelling to Brussels for talks with European Union leaders on his first trip to Europe since his election in June. Since becoming president, Morsi has already visited Saudi Arabia, China and Iran.