Latest update: March 8th, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: JUST AS THIS STORY WAS ABOUT TO BE PUBLISHED, THE JEWISH PRESS LEARNED THAT IBRAHIM WILL NOT RECEIVE THE AWARD AT THE CEREMONY, PENDING FURTHER REVIEW OF HER ALLEGED ANTI-SEMITIC AND ANTI-AMERICAN PUBLIC STATEMENTS. SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE.
This Friday, March 9, is International Women’s Day. First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will mark that day by honoring ten women with the Secretary of State Women of Courage Award. Very nice. Except one of those women, Samira Ibrahim, hates the U.S., Jews and the Jewish State and she is delighted when Israelis and Americans are killed. Not so nice.
Ibrahim is being honored for doing some very brave things. She took a serious risk when she joined the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011 against the Mubarak regime.
Ibrahim was detained by police and was one of 17 women subjected to a horrifically degrading – both conceptually and in practice – “virginity test,” the goal of which was to humiliate her and to prove that only “bad” women protest. The official reason given was to protect Egyptian military from charges of rape by these women. Ibrahim also claimed to have been tortured and sexually abused while in the prison.
Rather than suffer in silence, as so many victims do, Ibrahim filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian government. “I will not give up my rights as a woman or a human being,” she said at the time.
As a result of Ibrahim’s legal efforts, the Egyptian government banned those tests. Good for her! But based on public utterances Ibraham made, she not only does not care about justice for those different from herself, she actually applauds the death, torture and murder of others – if they are Jews or Americans.
In different statements, over the period of many months, the most recent in September, Ibrahim praised the 9/11/12 murder of four Americans, exulted at the death of 5 Israelis, quoted Hitler in Jews having a hand in all bad things, and said a Saudi official was worse than a “dirty Jew.”
Once these statements saw the light of day, originally in a story in The Weekly Standard, Ibrahim and U.S. officials have offered various excuses. One of her excuses, which her U.S. government backers picked up, is that her Twitter account was hacked and she didn’t write any of the bad things on her account. That doesn’t seem likely as the tweets – which were commented on at the time – remained in her feed without any public protest by her until the Standard story came out.
Charlize Theron, an Academy award winning actress and former super-model, wrote admiringly of Ibrahim in a Time Magazine special on “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” last spring.
When I first heard Samira’s story, it moved me. Not simply because of the abhorrent injustice she experienced but also because of her bravery to speak the truth and to face those who would tell her to stay quiet. It takes a strong person to stand up for what is right in the face of ostracism and public scrutiny. Samira represents the model of how to stand up to fear, and the impact she has made reaches far beyond Egypt. It takes just one woman to speak out, and thousands of others around the world will listen and feel inspired to act.
Theron is a United Nations Messenger of Peace, focusing on eliminating violence against women, according to Time. But not all women, apparently. Because Ibrahim, whom Theron wrote so admiringly about, actually rejoiced when one women was blown to bits this summer. That woman, Kochava Shriki, was one of the five Israeli tourists murdered by Hezbollah terrorists in Burgas, Bulgaria. Just as she was leaving on her trip to Bulgaria, Shriki learned that she was pregnant for the first time.
When Shriki and four other Israelis were murdered, Ibrahim tweeted, “explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news.”
But it isn’t just the Jews Ibrahim hates. When the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya burned and U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, Ibrahim tweeted: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning.”
And the state department had at least some inkling of the less than pure soul of Ms. Ibrahim. The U.S. State Department was aware of her stance against Israel and, in fact, it is one of the reasons given on its website for her being a recipient of this year’s award. In its short statement describing why she deserves the award, one reason given is that she was arrested in high school for criticizing Arab leaders’ “insincere support of the Palestinian cause.” No doubt that criticism was directed at least in part to Egyptian President Mubarak for honoring the peace agreement with Israel.
So, yes, it is very brave and it was an important fight to lead against the “virginity tests” imposed on Egyptian women who dared to protest political oppression. But there is something very wrong in calling such a person a “human rights” activist when her bravery is only activated by dangers to herself and those like her, but who praises the cruel torture and death inflicted on other innocent human beings simply because they are different than her.
Ibrahim has already begun a public relations tour throughout the U.S. She was in Pittsburgh earlier this week, as she and several of the award co-recipients were lauded. They are now in Washington, D.C., meeting with officials in the White House and the State Department, as well as members of congress. And after the award ceremony on Friday in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the State Department, several of the recipients will be traveling around the U.S. as part of the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program.
Other winners of the award this year include a Tibetan poet, an Afghani narcotics officer, an activist working for police and judicial reform in Honduras, a Russian journalist and human rights activist, a Somali who works to rehabilitate child soldiers and sexual violence victims, a Syrian human rights lawyer and source of information about killings and torture by the Syrian regime, and a Vietnamese former communist who blogs against the Communist Party of Viet Nam. All amazing women, none besides Ibrahim who openly praise deaths of Jews or Americans, or who quotes Hitler for having the foresight to see the hands of Jews in all things bad.
In fact, such a person would accurately be described as a hater, a hypocrite and a disgrace. Let’s see if Charlize Theron can do what she wrote Ibrahim had done.
Theron should be “a strong person to stand up for what is right in the face of ostracism and public scrutiny.” Because, perhaps, if “just one woman” were to “speak out,” then “thousands of others around the world will listen and feel inspired to act.” But if that’s too much to ask of an actress, surely it isn’t too much to ask of First Lady Michelle Obama, or Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to Hannah Allam, foreign policy reporter for McClatchey Newspapers, the State Department is saying the award will not be given to Ibrahim, “State Dept: We’re going to defer presenting women of courage award to Egyptian Samira Ibrahim, will review her alleged anti-Semitic remarks.” The State Department spokespeople have not yet responded to repeated requests for comment.
UPDATE: At its regular press briefing today, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland had the following to say regarding Samira Ibrahim:
We as a Department became aware very late in the process about Samira Ibrahim’s alleged public comments. After careful consideration, we’ve decided that we should defer presenting this award to Ms. Ibrahim this year so that we have a chance to look further into these statements. I would say that in conversations with us in the last 24 hours, Ms. Ibrahim has categorically denied authorship. She asserts that she was hacked. But we need some time and – in order to be prudent to conduct our own review.
I would also like at this point to note that as we do that, we initially selected Ms. Ibrahim because of the incredible bravery and courage she displayed at the time of the Tahrir Square protests. As you may recall, she was detained, she was subject to real police violence. Not only did she speak out about that, but she also became a real leader in her country in trying to address gender-based violence and other human rights abuses. So it was on that basis that she was initially selected, but obviously, these comments need to be looked into and we need some time.
This, from the Weekly Standard:
Finally, Ibrahim herself has spoken, writing in Arabic on her Twitter page. Egyptian democracy activist Mina Rezkalla provides the translation: “I refuse to apologize to the Zionist lobby in America regarding my previous anti-Zionist statements under pressure from American government therefore they withdrew the award.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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