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Honor off for 'virginity tests' heroine

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By McClatchy Newspapers
Thursday, March 7, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Thursday backed off its decision to honor a young woman for her bravery in the Egyptian uprising when it emerged that she'd quoted Adolf Hitler on Jews and posted anti-American commentary on her Twitter account.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that officials would defer the presentation of a Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award to Samira Ibrahim, 26, who faced death threats for taking on Egypt's powerful generals in court over the forced “virginity tests” of 17 women protesters who were detained in March 2011.

Ibrahim was to have joined nine other honorees on Friday for a ceremony presided over by Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama.

Nuland said the department became aware of Ibrahim's comments “very late in the process” and defended the reasons Ibrahim was originally included as a recipient.

“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,” Nuland said.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum alerted the State Department to Ibrahim's tweets on Tuesday, according to a report on the website of The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg.

Among the tweets was one this past Sept. 11 that was soon deleted: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning.”

On Aug. 4, she wrote that the Saudi royal family was “dirtier than the Jews,” and then a couple of weeks later quoted Hitler: “I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place except with the Jews having a hand in it.”

Nuland said that Ibrahim had denied making the comments and claimed her account had been hacked but that the State Department was still looking into the allegations.

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