Egyptian Anti-Semitic Activist Loses Sakharov Prize Nomination
A coalition of left-wing parties in the European parliament has withdrawn its nomination of an anti-Semitic Egyptian activist for the prestigious Sakharov Prize, awarded annually in honor of the late Soviet dissident, Andrei Sakharov.
Alaa Abdel Fattah, a secularist blogger and online advocate who played a prominent role in the demonstrations that brought an end to the rule of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, had been nominated for the prize by the GUE/NGL, a bloc which brings together green and socialist parties from across Europe.
Announcing the withdrawal of the nomination, GUE/NGL Group President Gabi Zimmer claimed to have been unaware of Abdel Fattah’s lengthy record of anti-Semitic statements, including a tweet in which he called for the murder of “a critical number of Israelis.”
“We cannot and will not tolerate such behaviour. This call goes against all our principles as well as the criteria for nomination for the Sakharov Prize,” Zimmer said. “Our group has always favored debate and political confrontation between peoples, including the Israeli people. It is in this context that our group has decided to withdraw its proposal.”
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal described Abdel Fattah as a “dissident for hate.” Calling for his nomination to be withdrawn, the editorial drew attention to Abdel Fattah’s anti-Semitic outbursts on Twitter over the last five years.
In 2009, Abdel Fattah declared: “One should only debate human beings. Zionists and other imperialists are not human beings.” The following year, he tweeted: “Dear zionists please don’t ever talk to me, I’m a violent person who advocated the killing of all zionists including civilians.” In other tweets, he praised Abu Daoud, the Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and lauded the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat, shortly after he signed a historic peace treaty with Israel.
Samuel Tadros, author of Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt and a Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, welcomed the withdrawal of Abdel Fattah’s nomination. “Alaa Abdel Fattah has been unjustifiably arrested by successive Egyptian regimes – while we should stand firm in defense of his human rights, that should not blind us to the values that he represents,” Tadros told The Algemeiner. “Alaa is no hero. Awarding him the Sakharov prize is an insult to the memory of a genuine hero and the values Sakharov stood for.”
Past winners of the Sakharov Prize include Aung San Suu Kyi, the leading Burmese dissident, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Hu Jia, the Chinese democracy activist. In 2013, the prize was won by Mala Yousafazi, the leading advocate for the rights of women and girls in Pakistan.
Andrei Sakharov, for whom the prize is named, died in 1989. A respected Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist, Sakharov was married to Yelena Bonner, a leading Jewish dissident. In 1970, Sakharov and Bonner campaigned with the prominent Soviet Jewish refusnik, Natan Sharansky – now the head of the Jewish Agency – for the release of a group of Soviet Jews who attempted to escape to Israel in a hijacked plane.