Ayat Oraby: Advocate of religious superiority betrays first US freedom
Hate is the fuel and justification for extremism. Hate is the start point that leads to extremism. Extremism, whether violent or not, cannot exist without hate.
The danger, however, is that while an extremist can be identified by many signs, such as the ideological rhetoric, slogans and the adoption of calls for organization, hate remains vague. Extremists may look independent and quiet and may not have clear affiliations, or they might hide them and only promote them and justify violence against their enemies, whether in the form of political assassinations, targeting the Egyptian security forces and army, or fighting moderate governments.
An example of political assassination is the neo-Nazi call on social media a few weeks ago for the killing of German politician Walter Lubcke over his stance on immigration. The case of targeting Egyptian security forces and army and attacking the moderate government can be seen in Ayat Oraby, US-based Egyptian activist and former journalist on Egyptian television.
Oraby embodies all the contents of hate speech identified by UNESCO and the international standards for defining hate speech. She practices religious discrimination and promotes religious hate speech against Christians in Egypt, accusing Christians of being traitors to their homeland.
She also practices racial hate in what we would call employment discrimination. In addition, she practices discrimination based on whether a person was a civilian or in the military. She justifies the killing of Egyptian soldiers and calls for the army’s destruction because, in her opinion, it is at peace with Israel and because it stood with the people against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and dismissed their late president.
The US-based activist takes a violent stance toward all that is Western, whether intellectual, cultural or political, while wearing the mask of a refugee and the Egyptian opposition. The West, in her opinion, is nothing but an enemy that hates Arabs and Muslims and conspires against them. In this context, she justifies all terrorist operations targeting the West and the US, where she lives.
It all started with hate before extremism - “Ayat Oraby,” a right-winged activist in opposition clothes!
Oraby favors an ideological religious superiority in line with the vision of her late sheikh, Sayyid Qutb, who died in 1966. Qutb inspired the various violent and non-violent Islamist groups in the Islamic world. Oraby insists that his followers and thoughts are the chosen ones, stressing the need for a negative view on the relationship between Muslims and the followers of other religions or between Islam, civilization and the modern world.
What Oraby and others like her are practicing may seem like freedom of information or expression, but it is a threat that fuels terrorism and radical practices, jeopardizing peace in Egypt and elsewhere.
Combating hatred is a prerequisite for fighting extremism. Hate is the underlying factor that drives extremism. It is existence by force or substance if extremism is real existence. Hence, the fight against hate speech promoted by those such as Oraby who hide under the pretext of freedom of expression and belief. As UNESCO says, peace is an idea that begins in the mind and so is war. Hatred and its rhetoric are merely the idea from which extremism begins.
Oraby is not the only one representing this extremism, but it has begun to grow in different Arab countries with the rise of right-wing and extremist movements in the East and West.
While I was writing this article, German police launched a security crackdown in nine states to combat hate on the Internet. “Threats, compulsion or sedition on the Internet are not petty offenses,” the BKA said.
Neglecting the danger of hate speech advocates and their activity on social media will revive extremism after the world managed to defeat it and restrict and ban its online activity. Extremism has been fought militarily in its strongholds in the Middle East — in Syria and Iraq — and in the Philippines, South Asia and Afghanistan. Terrorist cells have also been targeted in Europe.
This delayed vigilance has made governments and international organizations pay attention to Internet opportunities that largely obscure their challenges and risks and go beyond the previous stage, which was focused on the idealistic vision of offering a moderate anti-extremist discourse instead of restricting freedom of expression and information. The Internet is no longer a platform for open expression but also one for recruiting, commissioning and training for violence.
Violence has been carried out, and its justifications and ideas promoted through the hate speech of its advocates while they sit behind a small laptop, destroying people’s lives in distant or nearby areas, devastating coexistence and civil peace within communities, and triggering intolerance and discrimination.
The question remains: How many advocates of hate in opposition and refugee clothing call from this haven for hatred and violence? It is not only Ayat Oraby we are speaking about.
• Hani Nasira is an Egyptian writer and political expert, as well as the director of the Arab Institute for Studies. He was previously with Al Arabiya television channel in Dubai. Nasira is the author of a number of books, including “Al-Qaeda and Salafi Jihadism,” “Salafism in Egypt: Post-Revolution Transformations,” “Mahmoud Azmi, the Pioneer of Human Rights in Egypt,” and “The New Liberals in Egypt: Problems of Discourse and Practice.”