Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Egyptians protest against beating of women

Thousands rally in Cairo to denounce military's attacks, as Hillary
Clinton denounces "systematic degradation of women".

Dec. 20, 2011 Al Jazeera

Thousands of people have filled the streets of the Egyptian capital in
protest against the beating of female protesters by the ruling military
during clashes in and around the city's Tahrir Square.

Female activists had called for Tuesday's demonstration to denounce the
attacks on women and call for an immediate end to violence against

The rally came hours after Egyptian security forces clashed with
demonstrators in the capital on the fifth day of fighting that has left 14
people dead and more than 900 others injured since Friday.
The image of a woman stripped and stomped on by soldiers shocked
Egyptians, and the world [REUTERS]

The clashes sparked condemnation against the military among many people in
Egypt, particularly after one incident in which two Egyptian soldiers were
filmed dragging a woman protester on the ground by her shirt, exposing her
underwear, then clubbing and stomping on her body.

One of the women at Tuesday's protest said the country's military council
only cared about holding on to power.

"The reason for the protest is the picture and the video that was
published by news services around the world, and it showed us to what
extent the military council has no qualms about trampling on the women of
Egypt and the girls of Egypt, and has no qualms about beating them up and
stripping them naked," Islama Thabet told the Reuters news agency.

General Adel Emara, a member of Egypt's army council that took over after
Mubarak was overthrown in February, said on Monday the attack on the woman
protester was an isolated incident that was under investigation.

But there was outrage amongst the women who marched through Tahrir square
and downtown Cairo on Tuesday, with the protesters chanting that Egypt's
head of the military, Field Marshall Tantawi, was a coward, and that the
women of Egypt would not be humiliated.

While the images of the as yet unidentified woman who was stripped and
beaten have caused the most outrage, numerous other incidents of women
protesters being beaten or dragged by their hair have shocked Egyptians.

Many women who have been arrested by the army have also said that they
were molested while in custody and beaten while captive.

In what appeared to be a response to the protest, Egypt's military issued
a statement in which they expressed "deep sorrow" over the abuses of
women's rights that took place on the weekend, saying that those
responsible have had legal measures taken against them, Sherine Tadros

"Women humiliated"

In what has been some of the strongest criticism of Egypt's military
rulers by US officials, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state spoke
out against the treatment of Egyptian women in recent months.
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal reports on the latest from Cairo following
the dawn fighting

"Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they
risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago,"
America's top diplomat said in a speech at Washington's Georgetown
University on Monday.

The US, which saw Egypt as a staunch ally in the era of deposed leader
Hosni Mubarak, gives Cairo $3bn a year in military aid, and has been
criticised by activists for not speaking out more strongly against the
violence, and for continuing to export small arms even as those weapons
are being wielded against protesters.

Clinton said women had been mostly shut out of decision-making by Egypt's
ruling military and by big political parties.

"Women protesters have been rounded up and subjected to horrific abuse.
Journalists have been sexually assaulted. And now, women are being
attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets," she added.

"This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution,
disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people."

'Hitler's incinerators'

Army generals and their advisers have condemned the pro-democracy
protesters, sometimes in extraordinarily harsh terms.

"What is your feeling when you see Egypt and its history burn in front of
you?" retired general Abdel Moneim Kato, an army adviser, told al-Shorouk
daily, referring to a government archive building set alight during

"Yet you worry about a vagrant who should be burnt in Hitler's incinerators."

Presidential hopeful and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed
ElBaradei said such statements showed "a deranged and criminal state of

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information denounced Kato's comments,
saying they "incite hatred and justify violence against citizens".

The violent crackdown has alarmed rights groups. Amnesty International
urged arms suppliers to stop sending small arms and ammunition to Egypt's
military and security forces.

Reporters Without Borders complained of the army's "systematic use of
violence against media personnel".

Many Egyptians want to focus on building democratic institutions, not
street activism, but have nevertheless been shocked by the tactics of
security forces in and around Tahrir.

No comments: