WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration delayed honoring an Egyptian human rights activist after discovering tweets on her Twitter feed celebrating a deadly terrorist attack on Israelis.
Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said Thursday that Samira Ibrahim was on her way back to Egypt and would not participate in a State Department ceremony Friday what will honor nine other recipients of the International Women of Courage Award. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama will preside at the ceremony.
Ibrahim claims her Twitter account was hacked and that she did not write the tweets in question. The State Department said it was conducting "forensics" to determine if that was the case.
A July 18 tweet on Ibrahim’s feed and first reported this week by the Weekly Standard notes the suicide bombing in Burgas that day that killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver: "An explosion on a truck transporting Israelis at the airport of Burgas, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea," it says. "Oh Wowwww this eases off the day today very nice very nice news."
In August, an Ibrahim tweet disseminated Hitler’s notorious quote claiming that "no crime, no act against morality" lacks the hands of the Jews in it.
Another August tweet describes the Saudi royals as "dirtier than the Jews." When an interlocutor, apparently known to Ibrahim, chides her for attacking a religion and advises her to use "Zionists" or "Israelis" instead, a response from Ibrahim’s feed accepts the reprimand, with an endearment.
Ibrahim tweeted on Wednesday, the same day the Standard story appeared, that her Twitter account had been hacked multiple times and that any expressions of racism and hatred were not hers. She did not explain why she never removed the inflammatory tweets. Another tweet published Wednesday decries attacks on Egyptian Copts, likening them to anti-Semitism.
Ibrahim’s State Department biography says she was one of seven women during the initial 2011 Tahrir Square protests police subjected to forced "virginity tests."
"Born in Sohag, Upper Egypt, she was arrested while in high school for writing a paper that criticized Arab leaders’ insincere support of the Palestinian cause," the biography says.
Nuland noted Ibrahim’s courage in reporting Thursday’s decision to delay the honor.
"We initially selected Ms. Ibrahim because of the incredible bravery and courage she displayed at the time of the Tahrir Square protests," she said. "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."