Award to Egyptian activist rescinded due to controversial tweets

An Egyptian protestor holds a picture of Samira Ibrahim, an Egyptian woman who brought the case against an army doctor, Ahmed Adel, accused of conducting forced 'virginity tests' on female protestors, during a demonstration in solidarity with Ibrahim in Cairo on March 16, 2012.
HOSSAM/AFP/Getty Images

Updated: 2:13 p.m. ET

A woman who was to be honored today by the White House is now embroiled in scandal surrounding a series of anti-Semitic and anti-American messages she allegedly posted on Twitter.

Samira Ibrahim, the 25-year-old coordinator of an Egyptian group called "Know Your Rights," took Egypt's military council to court after she was subjected to a virginity test at the hands of the post-Mubarak military regime. Ibrahim said she was electrocuted after she refused to undress in front of a large number of soldiers and officers, and that the military doctor examined her for over five minutes. She said she also suspected the examination was being filmed.

Earlier this week, the White House announced that the State Department would honor Ibrahim and nine other women with the International Women of Courage Award in a ceremony today, with First Lady Michelle Obama and newly minted Secretary of State John Kerry presenting the awards.

But Ibrahim will not be getting the award after all, the State Department confirmed today, amid allegations that she posted tweets invoking pejorative terms about Jews in relation to Saudi Arabia's royal family, celebrating the death of Israelis in a Bulgarian suicide attack, quoting Hitler in a positive fashion, and, according to the Weekly Standard, which first reported Ibrahim's controversial statements, calling for "America burning" on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. 

Abrahim at one point appears to have suggested on Twitter that her account was hacked, but later she tweeted that she had refused to apologize for anti-Zionist statements despite pressure from the U.S.

"We have decided that we will not present" the award, said State Department Press Secretary Victoria Nuland, in a briefing today.

Nuland cited public statements Ibrahim has made that "didn't comport with our values."

"We didn't consider some of the public statements that she had made appropriate," she said. "Upon review, we have concluded that we will not give her this award."

Ibrahim had already arrived in the U.S. to receive her award, but Nuland said today  the state department plans to help her get back home to Egypt.

Yesterday, Nuland said the department had become aware of the offensive tweets "very late in the process" and that she "categorically denied authorship" of them. Asked why the State Department didn't catch the controversial statements in the first place, Nuland said the State Department had reviewed Ibrahim's nomination in Washington prior to naming her for the award, but suggested that they had missed the inflammatory tweets due to Ibrahim's prolific Twitter style.

"She is a very big tweeter. She has tens of thousands of tweets," Nuland told reporters. "So these represent a small portion of those, so obviously, we're doing forensics internally on how we didn't catch it the first time. But as I said, we're going to defer presentation."