Recent statements by Egyptian women's rights activist Samira Ibrahim have fanned the flames of the controversy surrounding her loss of the US State Department's International Women of Courage Award following accusations of 'anti-Semitism.'
"I refused to apologise to the Zionist lobby regarding previous anti-Zionist statements, despite pressure from the American government, so the award was withdrawn," Ibrahim declared via Twitter from the US, where she had already travelled to receive the prize in a Friday awards ceremony.
The young activist, who asserted that she had been subjected to "psychological pressures" while on US soil, also tweeted, however, that "the statements against the monotheistic religions were not mine but the anti-Zionist statements were."
Ibrahim's contentious tweets, issued over several months, included one last July in which she greeted news of a bus bombing that killed five Israelis as "good news." In another tweet, she praised the 11 September 2012 attacks against US diplomatic missions in the Middle East.
The activist's initial reaction to the controversy on Wednesday had been to deny authorship of the 'anti-Semitic' and anti-American tweets as the work of a hacker, alleging that her Twitter account had been "hacked more than once and any tweet containing racism or hatred is not mine."
On Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated: "In conversations with us in the last 24 hours, Ms. Ibrahim has categorically denied authorship. She asserts that she was hacked."
Ibrahim had been slated to receive the award for her role as chief whistleblower against the Egyptian military's practice of conducting 'virginity tests' on female protesters detained while taking part in a March 2011 Tahrir Square demonstration.