Latest update: March 8th, 2013
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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