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Clinton says Egypt's tomato-tossing protesters didn't bother her

Brendan Smialowski / AP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is shown in Cairo on Sunday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday she was not offended by protesters who threw shoes and tomatoes at her motorcade a day earlier in Alexandria, Egypt.

Speaking at a news conference in Israel, she called protests a "part of the fabric of a democracy" and the Alexandria outburst a "sign of that freer environment that Egypt now enjoys."

"I was relieved that nobody was hurt and felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted, but other than that it was not particularly bothersome," Clinton told reporters in Jerusalem.

Egypt tops agenda during Clinton trip to Israel

In Alexandria, Clinton presided over a ceremony to reopen the U.S. consulate, which was closed in 1993 to save money.

The ceremony was moved inside as protesters grew vocal outside the consulate.

A tomato hit an Egyptian official in the face.

The protesters also chanted "Monica, Monica, Monica," a reference to Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who was the focus of a sex scandal with her husband, then-President Bill Clinton.

Related: Christians snub Cairo meeting; protesters toss tomatoes

Protesters in Alexandria, Egypt, throw shoes, tomatoes and a water bottle at the motorcade of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

The protests in the nation of nearly 84 million came amid accusations that the U.S. administration favors Egypt’s Islamist parties over secular and liberal forces at the expense of the largely Muslim nation’s 8 million Christians. Clinton on Saturday met with Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president in 60 years.

On Sunday, Clinton said at the consulate ceremony, "I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which, of course, we cannot."

On Monday, she said the protest also was a sign that “the Egyptian people are still concerned about the future; they are not yet sure what is the path forward.” With parliament confirmed and no constitution written yet after the 2011 downfall of 40-year ruler Hosni Mubarak, “I think it is understandable that there are many unanswered questions and lots of anxiety about what may or may not be happening,” Clinton said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi. Msnbc's Alex Witt reports.


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