Ayat Oraby: Anchor of intolerance

Hate preacher Ayat Oraby
Updated 10 November 2019

Ayat Oraby: Anchor of intolerance

  • From the comfort of her base in the US, the activist sows sectarian hatred in her Middle East homeland
  • Oraby supports her anti-Christian rhetoric with claims the military controls the church and uses it to store weapons. She also accuses Christians of waging a war against Islam

DUBAI: With more than 1 million followers on Facebook, Ayat Oraby blurs the lines between reporting and hate speech.

She blatantly expresses her opinions in her articles and videos, which range from anti-Christian rhetoric to support for a religious scholar believed to be the inspiration behind some terrorist groups to allegations against individual politicians for supporting Israel.

A whole section on her personal website calls for the economic boycott of Christians in Egypt, whom she accuses of plotting against Muslims and trying to form their own Coptic state.

Oraby explained in a video posted on YouTube how and why she came to that conclusion, with stories dating back to the times of French colonization.

According to Oraby, Egyptian Christians helped France take over the country, betraying the Muslim populations.

“This is the reason for the call for an economic boycott against them. To tell you the truth, I have been postponing this call for a long time, but now I am asking for all Muslims who are zealous for their religion to heed this call,” she said.

Her Facebook posts contain material targeting Coptic Christian popes in Egypt, such as Shenouda III of Alexandria and Tawadros II.

Oraby called Tawadros a “criminal” and an “arch-killer,” and accused Shenouda of having a sexual relationship with his personal driver.

She also publicly spoke against the celebration of Christmas in Egypt, because some aspects of the festivity are financed by taxpayers, who are a Muslim majority in Egypt.

“You are in a Muslim country with over 95 million Muslims, so why is the TV celebrating Christmas?” she asked in a YouTube video.


Name: Ayat Oraby

Nationality: Egyptian

Place of residence: New York, US

Occupation: Journalist 

Legal status: Emigrated to the US from Egypt in 1993

Medium :YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her website www.ayatoraby.com

Oraby supports her anti-Christian rhetoric with claims that the military controls the church and uses it to store weapons.

She also accuses Christians in Egypt of waging a war against Islam and believes that they are planning to betray the Muslim populace “again.”

Oraby spreads her messages mainly via Twitter and Facebook, where she enjoys followings of more than 540,000 and 1 million, respectively.

The activist’s rhetoric appeals to some people for a variety of reasons, according to Johannes Van Gorp, assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah.

It could be a reactionary political act, trying to bring back lost glory, or to unite against perceived targeting and attacks, Van Gorp said.

Her ideas sound radical and problematic, but she is able to express them because she lives in the US. As long as the speech does not result in clear and present danger, “it is protected under the First Amendment,” Van Gorp said.

Oraby first moved to the US about a year after starting her career as an anchor on Egyptian TV’s Channel 3 in 1992. A few years later, in 1996, she left home to co-host the famous Good Morning Egypt show on Channel 1.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

In 1999, she returned permanently to the US and worked as a foreign correspondent for Egyptian TV. During her stay, she founded and chaired Noon Al-Niswa, the first Arab women’s magazine in the US.

Oraby supports the Muslim Brotherhood and openly adheres to Sayyid Qutb’s ideology.

His ideology, sometimes called Qutbism, is believed to have inspired several radical groups, including Al-Qaeda.

The academic John Calvert explores Qutb’s influence in his book “Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism.”

“Given the dire condition of the world, Qutb said that Muslims had a duty to reactivate the principle of jihad (literally, ‘striving’) against the jahili forces responsible for humankind’s ‘misery and confusion’,” Calvert said.

Qutb was also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he joined in the 1953.

Oraby’s stance on Egyptian authorities has transformed over the years, from support to extreme hostility. She uses a cover image of ousted President Muhammad Mursi on Facebook and often publishes posts attacking Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

In earlier reports, the US-based journalist accused Egyptian soldiers killed in a fire fight with militants of being paid by El-Sisi to murder unarmed Muslims during the “Rabaa massacre.”

But her accusations against the national army do not end there. She nicknamed it the “Misraeli army,” alluding to an allegiance with Israel, and has repeatedly called for it to be dismantled.

Oraby attacked several heads of states and political leaders, such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Saudi King Faisal, accusing some of propagating a false image of Islam and others of giving away Palestine to Israeli occupation.


Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held scientist

Updated 07 December 2019

Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held scientist

  • President Donald Trump separately acknowledged Wang was free in a statement from the White House, saying he “is returning to the United States”
  • Tensions have been high between Iran and the US since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018

TEHRAN: Iran and the US conducted a prisoner exchange Saturday that saw a detained Princeton graduate student released for an Iranian scientist held by America, marking a potential breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the first announcement on the trade via Twitter. The trade involves graduate student Xiyue Wang and scientist Massoud Soleimani.
“Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Zarif wrote. “Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government.”
In his tweet, Zarif confirmed rumors that had been circulating for days that a deal was in the works to free Wang.
President Donald Trump separately acknowledged Wang was free in a statement from the White House, saying he “is returning to the United States.”
“Mr. Wang had been held under the pretense of espionage since August 2016,” Trump said. “We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr. Wang’s release with Iran.”
The Swiss Embassy in Tehran looks out for America's interests in the country as the U.S. Embassy there has been closed since the 1979 student takeover and 444-day hostage crisis.
Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, accompanied the Iranian scientist to Switzerland to make the exchange and will return with Wang, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity as the information had yet to be released. The swap took place in Zurich and Hook and Wang are now en route to Landstuhl in Germany where Wang will be examined by doctors, the official said. Hook is expected to return to the US from Germany alone, as Wang is expected to be evaluated for several days.
Although Hook was present for the swap, the official said Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien played the lead role in the negotiations dating from his time as the special representative for hostage affairs at the State Department.
Iran's state-run IRNA news agency later reported that Soleimani was with Iranian officials in Switzerland. Soleimani was expected to return to Iran in the coming hours. Zarif later posted pictures of himself on Twitter with Soleimani in front of an Iranian government jet and later with the two talking on board.
Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for allegedly “infiltrating” the country and sending confidential material abroad. His family and Princeton University strongly denied the claims. Wang was arrested while conducting research on the Qajar dynasty that once ruled Iran for his doctorate in late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history, according to Princeton.
Hua Qu, the wife of Xiyue Wang, released a statement saying “our family is complete once again.”
“Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue,” she said. “We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”
Princeton University spokesman Ben Chang said the school was aware of Wang's release.
“We are working with the family and government officials to facilitate his return to the United States,” Chang said.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court tried Wang. That court typically handles espionage cases and others involving smuggling, blasphemy and attempts to overthrow its Islamic government. Westerners and Iranian dual nationals with ties to the West often find themselves tried and convicted in closed-door trials in these courts, only later to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations.
Soleimani — who works in stem cell research, hematology and regenerative medicine — was arrested by US authorities on charges he had violated trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran. He and his lawyers maintain his innocence, saying he seized on a former student’s plans to travel from the US to Iran in September 2016 as a chance to get recombinant proteins used in his research for a fraction of the price he’d pay at home.
Tensions have been high between Iran and the US since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018. In the time since, the US has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran's economy. There also have been a series of attacks across the Mideast that the US blames on Iran.
Other Americans held in Iran include the 81-year-old businessman Baquer Namazi who has been held for over two years and diagnosed with epilepsy.
Both Baquer Namazi and his son Siamak Namazi, also a dual national who has been held for over three years, are serving a 10-year sentence after they were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power.
An Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences, respectively. Also held is US Navy veteran Michael White.
Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains missing as well. Iran says that Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, but his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while saying Wang would soon be able to go home to his family, acknowledged other Americans remain held by Iran.
“The United States will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones,” Pompeo said in a statement.