US defers activist's award amid anti-Semitic tweets

Egyptian activist was due to be honored as one of 10 Int'l Women of Courage; she contends Twitter account was hacked.

Samira Ibrahim 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Samira Ibrahim 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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.
Ibrahim 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.
Ibrahim’s tweets, 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.
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 not me.”
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 problematic tweets.
“She asserts that she was hacked,” Nuland reported.
“But we need some time, in order to be prudent, to conduct our own review.”
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 Nuland.
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 exonerated.
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.