On November 17, 2017, I read what was written about me in your newspaper [“‘Journalist’ Ayat Oraby: Mainstream or Extreme?” by Samantha Rose Mandeles], and before commenting on what was written, let me share with you some memories of the past four years.
On the 14th of August 2013, and like tens of millions of other people, I was watching the horrible footage coming from Rabaa square in Cairo. Bulldozers were driving over dead bodies, bullets were fired on unarmed anti-coup protesters, smoke was rising in the air, and sounds of screams were met with blaring sirens and devastated cries. It was a catastrophe that ended with a scene taken from a helicopter of flames devouring anything left to destroy. Thousands of unarmed protesters were rounded up, fired at, slain cold-bloodedly within 12 hours. The testimonies of those who managed to survive the massacre were horrible but the scenes of burnt bodies were engraved in our minds. That evening four years ago, I received a phone call from Egypt. On the other side was a high ranking official of the state-owned TV where I worked as a TV anchor. He warned me of talking and threatened me, telling me that the correct number of victims killed in Rabaa Massacre was 11 thousand victims, concluding with “you must be silenced.”
From that moment on I decided not side with those killers. From that moment on, it was not only my vote and president Morsi, whom I (and millions others) elected, but it was in addition to all that a matter of being human or not. Failing to dissuade me, the coup authorities attempted through intermediaries to bribe me into supporting the coup by offering me the membership of a committee that was charged with drafting the military coup constitution, then when I refused by offering me a weekly program on one of their TV stations for an awesome amount of money.
What followed the massacre was incredibly horrible, detention of kids, rape of women by the coup militias (Human Rights Watch documented some cases), forced disappearances, a huge number of detainees that amounts to 100 thousand according to Egyptian journalistic resources.
In brief, it is a coup! The same primitive military junta takeovers that take place in any banana republic and installs some general with a military uniform covered with feathers. The same image that Hollywood managed to successfully depict!
It’s the modern version of the 1973 Chilean coup, applying the same methods and committing the same horrible crimes but on a larger scale due to difference in the Egyptian case. Military coups remain military coups even if some people attempt to depict them otherwise. However, supporting coup d’états or not, remains a personal option. However unethical it may sound but people are free to support brutal takeover of power by military juntas in other countries or not. However while those who opt for supporting coup d’états’ are free to do so, they have to respect the political definitions. So coups remain coups and their governments remain coup governments, the massacres they commit remain massacres, and those who support coups remain coup advocates.
Some of the officers killed on the 20th of October have a proven criminal record of torture of detainees. Others are known to take part in Rabaa massacre (their family members and even some coup media outlets bragged the participation of some of them in the massacre).
Some people may sympathize with them (however abhorrent it may sound, some people may sympathize with military coups, rapists and serial killers), but on the other hand, the majority of humans do not sympathize with killers, rapists and armed coup militias (with proven criminal record) when they get killed!
In other words, deciding not to sympathize with killers remains my personal option and is none of that young lady’s (Samantha Mandeles) business!
Moreover, in many incidents the coup media outlets announced the killing of what they called terrorist elements, and then it was found out that those killed were innocent detainees held by the coup police (a tactic applied by the Chilean coup back in 1973).
In other words, nobody knows for certain, who killed those coup officers and the coup media outlets have no credibility.
The coup media outlets have a proven scandalous history of lying to people. Their lies range from celebratory announcements of a device that heals Aids with Kofta which is an Egyptian meat ball dish (the ceremonial announcement was attended by the coup leader and the military junta), to faking a story of the military frogmen capturing the commander of the American sixth fleet when the latter allegedly attempted to intervene against the military to prevent them from ousting the elected president Mohammed Morsi ! the military spokesman has yet a worse history of lying. In brief, the coup turned Egypt into a madhouse and nobody believes the military media and nobody knows where those killers have been killed…
While opting for supporting military coups is a personal option as I said, writing about Middle Eastern politics requires more than just believing the coup media. It requires learning Arabic and reading some history and politics books, as Gamal Abd el Nasser being of Yemeni Jewish origins is stated in the memoirs of former president Muhammad Naguib and being an agent of the CIA is stated in many sources and I recommend Samantha Mandeles to read the books of former CIA operative Miles Copeland and historian Hugh Wilford’s book (America’s Great Game) to know more about Nasser being a CIA agent and his coup being staged by the CIA. These are history facts not anti-Semitism, so try to learn some history!
Moreover, I personally have a proven Semite ancestry that I can trace 3000 years back to Prophet Ibrahim through his son prophet Ismael through his grandson prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all), so do no try to sell that anti-Semite thing here as I’m more Semite than you previously thought and that I can go through a DNA test.
The terror apologists are those who defend a military junta coup, not those who refuse a military coup against an elected president. The real terror apologists are the coup apologists.
— Ayat Oraby
via the Internet
Samantha Rose Mandeles replies:
Celebrated philosopher Karl Popper once famously noted, “No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.” Egyptian ‘journalist’ Ayat Oraby seems to be doing her best to prove Popper’s classic observation.
New York-based Oraby is well-known in the Arab world, with a public Facebook page boasting over 600,000 followers. As I picked through it a few weeks ago, I found posts in which she gleefully described (in graphic detail) the October 20 murder of several dozen Egyptian police by a terrorist organization in the desert. I also found evidence of Oraby’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, her espousal of traditional anti-Semitic tropes, and her hate-mongering against Coptic Christians. As I discovered, her Facebook (and Twitter and YouTube) page is littered with conspiracy theories, prejudice, and histrionics.
After the American Spectator published my piece about her and her undeserved accolades, Oraby sent a hysterical 1000-word rant in response to the editor. Her screed addressed almost none of the points I made about her intolerance, but she did — in a fit of anti-Semitism so perfectly emblematic it could almost have been satire — challenge me to take a DNA test to prove my Semitic ancestry. This was, of course, after asserting (without proof) the authenticity of her own Semitic heritage going back to Muhammad and Abraham.
Besides the obvious fact that one need not be free of Jewish ancestry to hate Jews, Oraby here used a tactic typical of anti-Semites — misdirection — when she claimed that her Semitic roots immunize her against history’s oldest hatred. Instead of engaging with my point — that her Facebook assertion of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Judaism amounts to a baseless anti-Semitic conspiracy theory — Oraby played a silly semantic game by trying to re-define the common term for Jew-hate.
Though Oraby commanded me to further educate myself (“These are history facts not anti-Semitism, so try to learn some history!”), it appears that it is she who needs instruction. So, for her benefit, I will note that the term ‘anti-Semitism’ was coined in 1879 by the German bigot, Wilhelm Marr, specifically to refer to hatred of Jews.
I will also note that the text which Oraby recommended to me — Hugh Wilford’s America’s Great Game — (wherein I was to find proof of Nasser’s status as a CIA agent) in fact sits comfortably on my bookshelf. Nowhere, in all 299 pages of his text, does Wilford make such a claim.
Even more ridiculous than this inaccurate citation was Oraby’s insistence that her political opinions — however revoltingly and publicly presented — “remain my personal option and is none of that young lady’s (Samantha Mandeles) business!” This hollow objection is nothing but a demonstration of intellectual dishonesty. Like other Islamists, Oraby refuses to self-critique; she would rather scold those who disagree for having the gall to voice their own thoughts.
Meanwhile, for all her letter’s pontificating about the injustice of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s 2013 coup against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi in Egypt, Oraby does not acknowledge Morsi’s own vicious behavior toward his opposition. She has not condemned Morsi supporters’ beatings of protesters, nor does she even acknowledge Morsi’s torture of political prisoners. And though she cited Human Rights Watch as a source on the Rabaa Massacre, she apparently failed to notice that the same group also recorded Brotherhood attacks on a whopping 42 churches in 2013.
Moreover, Oraby has ignored that she herself — through her incitement to boycott and subjugate them — encourages Muslim Brotherhood crimes against Egypt’s Coptic Christians. She repeats Brotherhood accusations of coup-complicity against the Coptic pope, and praises (“The Crescent must always be on top of the Cross!”) Islamist domination of minorities in Egypt.
Ayat Oraby is an arrogant, intolerant, myopic Islamist. She seeks the establishment of a global caliphate; fervently advocates the objective moral and religious superiority of her own positions (and the intellectual and moral illegitimacy of all other religions); and opposes freedom of expression and conscience for those who disagree with her narrow-minded views. As her letter demonstrates, she is well practiced in the Islamist rhetorical tricks of the trade: historical revisionism, selective outrage, and bigotry masquerading as moral commentary. And, she does not recognize that her sort of ideas — which are antithetical to just, progressive, improving societies — are part of the reason the Arab world is mired in chaos.
In a perfectly symptomatic description of such a world view, Ruth Wisse, professor Emeritus of literature at Harvard University, once wrote, “Anti-Semitism [has become] a stand-in for opposition to liberalizing reforms.” Small wonder, then, that Ayat Oraby and her fellow Islamist travelers are guilty of both.
Samantha Rose Mandeles writes about Islamism. You can find her on Twitter at @SRMandeles.