Egyptian activist faces pro-Israel backlash after award nomination

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Published Thursday, May 2, 2013

The nomination of an Egyptian activist to receive a human rights award has led to uproar by pro-Israeli media over her comments supporting resistance against Israeli occupation.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, also known as “the Nobel Prize for human rights,” had chosen Mona Seif as one of three contending activists to receive the annual award.

Seif, a biology graduate student researching breast cancer mutations, became a prominent activist documenting the 2011 Egyptian uprising from Tahrir Square. She later started the group ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ to denounce the Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ (SCAF) abuses of power.

Her nomination sparked a backlash from pro-Israeli organizations, who accuse her of “supporting terrorism.”

On Tuesday, American Jewish Committee-affiliated group UN Watch sent a letter to the Martin Ennals Foundation urging the organization to “immediately cancel Ms. Seif’s nomination on grounds of her public advocacy of violence against civilians, terrorism and war crimes, which is in gross breach of the Award criteria of ‘promotion and protection of human rights.’”

UN Watch cited several of Seif’s tweets during the Israeli attack on Gaza, in which she condemned calls by some NGOs for both sides of the conflict to stop the violence.

She also made public her support of the destruction of pipes in the Sinai transporting gas from Egypt to Israel.

UN Watch’s criticisms were widely shared by publications such as the conservative Canada Free Press, whose headline read “Top Rights Prize Nominee Tweets for Terror.”

The American weekly The Jewish Free Press slammed Seif’s “darker side” and her “propensity to express the most vulgar kind of hatred towards Israel,” as the newspaper took particular offense with Seif’s use of the hashtag #FuckIsrael.

Yet another conservative publication, The Washington Free Beacon, incorrectly called Seif a “radical Egyptian Islamist.”

Seif could not be reached for comment by Al-Akhbar, although she has publicly defended herself from accusations of being a “terrorism supporter,” while affirming her support of the Palestinian resistance against Israel.

“I have never called for nor celebrated attacks on civilians,” Seif wrote on Facebook.

“My position is very clear: I support people’s right to resist occupation and I resist all attempts at portraying the siege of a predominantly civilian population by the world's 4th most powerful army as one of 'equivalence.’”

In a similar case, the US canceled handing an International Women of Courage award to Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim in March over several anti-American and anti-Israeli tweets.

In 2011, Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour was removed from the shortlist for the Lacoste Elysée Prize at the request of an unidentified official, on the grounds that her work was “too pro-Palestinian.”


The article has been edited to reflect the fact that UN Watch is currently affiliated with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), not the World Jewish Congress (WJC), as previously reported. UN Watch was established with the help of the WJC, but they have not been officially linked since 2001, according to the AJC.


I am an Israeli and am proud Mona Seif won her award.
She Is receiving this award for the good she has done for all Egyptians and not for her support for Palestinians.
It Is silly and counter productive to object to her nomination based on her tweets .
Prominent Israelis( example, Ehud Barak) ( me too) have said In the past, "Had I been a Palestinian,I would resist occupation and be labeled a terrorist".
Nor Israel nor Palestinians are with out fault and terrorism from both sides has nothing In the way to advance peace and build understanding between our peoples but don't mix blessed humanitarian work with support for one group of people In a conflict.She Is hardly Samira Ibrahim

This is precisely the proof of Israeli and US powerlessness in the one battlefield that makes all the difference. Even back in the US war on Vietnam (not just in Vietnam), the US knew the secret: winning hearts and minds. The US failed at that; the liberation army/regime succeeded. Perhaps it comes down to this: Israel cannot just massacre several million people and thus silence the rest sympathetically. That day is about a hundred years past. So Israel is at best an anachronism. Let it stay in the book of history, contrary to Ahmadinejad're mark, but refile it in its proper place, from, say, 1848 to 1913.

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