WASHINGTON – The US State Department is holding off on presenting a prestigious
award to Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim after anti-US and anti- Semitic tweets
from her Twitter account were uncovered.
“After careful consideration,
we’ve decided we should defer presenting this award to Ms. Ibrahim this
year so that we have a chance to look further into these statements,” State
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday.
was due to be honored as one of 10 International Women of Courage by Secretary
of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama on Friday and is already in
the United States.
Nuland said the department was made aware of tweets
she described as anti-Semitic and celebrating terrorism just 24 hours earlier
and that US officials were conducting “forensics internally” to figure out how
her offensive tweets had been missed. Nuland noted that Ibrahim is a prolific
Twitter user who has sent out some 18,000 messages.
translated from Arabic in The Weekly Standard, included one welcoming the news
of last July’s bombing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, calling it “a very sweet
day, very sweet news.” She also referred to the family of the House of Saud as
being “dirtier than the Jews” and another time quoted Hitler blaming the world’s
crimes on Jews.
In response to several of her tweets, others sent out
digital statements calling for her to retract her comments and avoid inciting
hatred against Jews, to which there appear to be no responses from
Ibrahim, however, tweeted Thursday that “my account has been
hacked more than one time and any [use] of my account for racism and hatred is
On Wednesday, she sent out a tweet saying that “what happens to
the Copts in Egypt now happened before to the Jews. Enough hatred, enough
racism, Egypt for all Egyptians.”
Nuland noted that in conversations with
State Department officials, Ibrahim had “categorically denied” sending the
“She asserts that she was hacked,” Nuland
“But we need some time, in order to be prudent, to conduct our
Ibrahim was selected because of the “incredible courage and
bravery she displayed” in speaking out after suffering sexual abuses that took
place in the course of the Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt, according to
The biography of Ibrahim posted on the State Department site
devoted to the 2013 Women of Courage winners described Ibrahim’s experience of
being subjected to a “virginity test” by the Egyptian military along with six
other women detained during a Cairo protest.
“Resisting enormous cultural
pressure to remain silent about her ordeal, she brought charges against the
government,” the State Department site stated, though the doctor in her case was
The site also noted that Ibrahim, now the coordinator of the
Know Your Rights movement, was arrested in high school for writing a paper that
criticized Arab leaders’ insincere support of the Palestinian cause.