Clashes between soldiers and protesters calling for the end of military rule by a council of generals have entered their third day with at least 12 dead and many hundreds detained. Among those killed is a 19-year-old; a 15-year-old, Ahmed Saad, is described as being in critical condition after receiving a gunshot wound. The SCAF has sought to pin the recent violence — which has marred Egypt’s first democratic elections, held on November 28 and December 12 — on the protesters. Retired general Abdel Moneim Kato, an army adviser, spoke harshly in the daily al-Sharouk about the burning of a government archive building:
“What is your feeling when you see Egypt and its history burn in front of you?… ”Yet you worry about a vagrant who should be burnt in Hitler’s incinerators.”
Former UN nuclear watchdog chief and possible presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei returned that Kato’s words showed “a deranged and criminal state of mind.” The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information also said Kato’s words incited “hatred and [justified] violence against citizens.”
Women Rally Against Abuse
Thousands of women took to the streets of downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening to protest the violence against female demonstrators by the military in recent clashes in Tahrir Square. The New York Times described the march as possibly the “biggest women’s demonstration in Egypt’s history” and indeed “the most significant since a 1919 march led by pioneering Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi to protest British rule.” Many protesters held up photographs of a female protester who was beaten, dragged on the ground and stripped to her bra by soldiers, an incident that has outraged Egyptians and horrified the world.
Women of all ages, some of whom had never joined a protest before, marched towards the headquarters of the journalists union. Two lines of hundreds of men formed on either side of the women. The crowd called on others to join with chants of “come down, come down,” echoing a phrase used during the massive protests earlier this year that brought down former President Hosni Mubarak.
Flyers proclaimed “Liars, stop the violence” and depicted a hand reaching out from a military uniform and groping a frowning woman, says the Guardian.
Protesters proclaimed the head of the ruling military council, the Surpreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Tantawi, a “coward.”
Samea Saleh, a woman wearing the niqab (veil), said that the military was attempting to take away the Egyptian people’s dignity.
Referring to the images of the young woman lying half-naked on the street – her cloak ripped in two – Saleh said such images showed nothing had improved under military rule.
“What they did to that woman was the ultimate insult. Why do they think we wear these clothes? To have them stripped off us on the street? I’m here as part of the revolution, which did not end in February,” she said.
The image of the woman beaten and stripped by soldiers in Tahrir was rapidly circulated around the world via the internet, with activists using the #BlueBra tag on Twitter. But as “relatively few Egyptians have Internet access or watch independent satellite television news,” the image was not seen by many Egyptians until Tuesday, when one of the generals on the SCAF, General Adel Emara, said on state television that the incident was an isolated occurrence and that it was being investigated.
As the New York Times reports, the general’s answer to a female journalist asking for an apology to women about their treatment in the recent protests was not encouraging:
“I demand that the military council gives serious and important consideration to the issue of women, or the next revolution will be a women revolution for real,” [the female journalist] warned. The general, however, first tried to interrupt her to announce that the military had learned of a new plan to attack the Parliament — already behind heavy barriers — and then brushed off her request.
Many Egyptian women said later that they were outraged by the general’s handling of the question and nonchalance about the attack.
As Al Jazeera reports, many women who have been arrested have said they were beaten and molested while in in custody.
Hillary Clinton Condemns Violence Against Egyptian Women
Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharply criticized the violence against women by the Egyptian police and soldiers:
“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people…..Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago.”
Clinton called the recent violence in Egypt “shocking.”
While women comprised about 30 percent of the candidates in the recent parliamentary elections, with most running as independents rather than on a party ticket, “not a single woman has been directly elected in Egypt’s first round of elections for the lower house of Parliament,” according to Ms Magazine. Only 3 or 4 seem likely to gain seats in January in the 498-member lower house of parliament. How “revolutionary” can Egypt’s new Parliament be, if not even 1 percent of its members are women?
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