An Egyptian activist’s nomination for a prestigious European honor was withdrawn because he called for the mass killing of Israelis.
The withdrawal of Alaa Abdel Fattah’s nomination for the Sakharov Prize was announced Wednesday by the coalition of European Parliament left-wing parties that had nominated him.
“It emerges that one of the bloggers we proposed, Alaa Abdel Fatah who was a victim of repression in Egypt and jailed several times, called for the murder ‘of a critical number of Israelis’ in a tweet in 2012. We did not avail of this information when we put forward his candidacy,” Gabi Zimmer, president of the GUE/NGL Group in the European Parliament, wrote.
Named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was established in 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honor individuals or groups striving to defend human rights and freedom of thought and expression. The €50,000 ($63,000) prize is awarded to “exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.” Laureates included South African president Nelson Mandela, UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and teenage Pakistani campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
Abdel Fattah was nominated for the Sakharov Prize on September 23 along with rappers Mouad Belghouate (Morocco) and Ala Yaacoubi (Tunisia).
— Alaa Abd El Fattah (@alaa) November 15, 2012
“We cannot and will not tolerate such behavior,” Zimmer wrote in her statement about Abdel Fattah’s 2012 remark about Israelis. “This call goes against all our principles as well as the criteria for nomination for the Sakharov Prize. Our group has always favored debate and political confrontation between peoples, including the Israeli people.”
In Egypt, Abdel Fattah is about to be tried under laws banning certain kinds of protest. In addition, he appealed a separate verdict of a month in prison for “insulting the interior ministry,” legal sources told Ahram Online.
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