Washington: The US will delay giving a prestigious award to an Egyptian activist to check reports she has made anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks.
Samira Ibrahim was to have been honoured on Friday along with nine other women with the International Women of Courage Award at a glittering event hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama.
The annual award marking International Women’s Day is given to women for ”exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk”.
Ms Ibrahim had been chosen ”because of the incredible bravery and courage she displayed at the time of the Tahrir Square protests,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
”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,” she said.
The right-wing Weekly Standard said Ms Ibrahim, who is prolific on Twitter, had written in August: ”An 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.”
She also allegedly wrote on September 11: ”Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning,” the Standard said. Ms Ibrahim has told the State Department that her account was hacked.
Of the 18,000 tweets Ms Ibrahim has sent out in recent years, ”she is denying authoring some four that were brought to our attention, two of which were anti-Semitic, two of which celebrated terrorism”.
She had already been in Washington for the ceremony and was heading home as the department decided ”these comments need to be looked into,” Ms Nuland said.
Among the nine women who will be honoured on Friday are the Indian student who died after being gang-raped in a bus in Delhi in December; Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan poet and blogger; and a Syrian human rights lawyer, Razan Zeitunah.