Islamists in Egypt seek to Terrorize Women into Silence
It seems to me that the Islamist factions in the Egyptian election seek to couch everything in terms of a referendum between Mubarak-era corruption, foreign servitude and autocracy, and decent traditional “Egyptian” ways “somehow” involving the harmonizing political influence of Islamic morality and probity. This black and white, and ultimately false, view serves the Islamist parties well by tarring with a very broad brush virtually all political factions that support a secular Egypt; they all were at the least comfortable under Mubarak as compared to the Islamists who innocently sought to install a theocratic regime by any means necessary.
In reality this election will decide whether Egypt remains with its face turned toward Western Civilization or abandon that path to return to the “traditional” tribal mentality of millennia past.
Recently the Islamist factions have been organizing riots against anyone with a pro-Western, secular agenda by labeling them as Mubarak supporters. This trend reaches its ugly peak with the story below; take notice of the carefully neutral and anonymous description of the attacking men – imagine a group of Hassidic Jews or Radical Mormons staging a mass assault on a Gay rights parade never having their religion mentioned in the entire article; the victims are lumped in with all former cronies of the former dictator!
Alarming assaults on women in Egypt’s Tahrir
A mob of hundreds of men have assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment, with the attackers overwhelming the male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
From the ferocity of Friday’s assault, some of the victims said it appeared to have been an organised attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample on the pro-democracy protest movement.
The attack follows smaller scale assaults on women this week in Tahrir, the epicenter of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year. Thousands have been gathering in the square this week in protests over a variety of issues — mainly over worries that presidential elections this month will secure the continued rule by elements of Mubarak’s regime backed by the ruling military.
Earlier in the week, an Associated Press reporter witnessed around 200 men assault a woman who eventually fainted before men trying to help could reach her.
Friday’s march was called to demand an end to sexual assaults. Around 50 women participated, surrounded by a larger group of male supporters who joined hands to form a protective ring around them. The protesters carried posters saying, “The people want to cut the hand of the sexual harasser,” and chanted, “The Egyptian girl says it loudly, harassment is barbaric.”
After the marchers entered a crowded corner of the square, a group of men waded into the group of women, heckling them and groping them. The male supporters tried to fend them off, and it turned into a melee involving a mob of hundreds.
The marchers tried to flee while the attackers chased them and male supporters tried to protect them. But the attackers persisted, cornering several women against a metal sidewalk railing, including an Associated Press reporter, shoving their hands down their clothes and trying to grab their bags. The male supporters fought back, swinging belts and fists and throwing water.
Eventually, the women were able to reach refuge in a nearby building with the mob still outside until they finally got out to safety.
“After what I saw and heard today. I am furious at so many things. Why beat a girl and strip her off? Why?” wrote Sally Zohney, one of the organisers of the event on Twitter.
The persistence of the attack raised the belief of many that it was intentional, though who orchestrated it was unclear.
Right Virginia, it was about as unclear as Maj. Hasan’s motive for committing “workplace Violence” at Fort Hood in 2009!
Mariam Abdel-Shahid, a 25 year-old cinema student who took part in the march, said “sexual harassment will only take us backward.”
“This is pressure on the woman to return home,” she said.
Of course, there are so many distinct factions in Egyptian society that are violently dedicated to returning women to their traditional roles that we will probably never be able to assign a culprit; oh well.
Hey, isn’t it horrible that Romney might have done something mean to someone that he might have thought was gay 40 years ago?
Ahmed Mansour, a 22 year-old male medical student who took part in the march, said there are “people here trying to abuse the large number of women protesters who feel safe and secure. Some people think it is targeted to make women hate coming here.”
“I am here to take a position and to object to this obscene act in society,” he said.
Assaults on women Tahrir have been a demoralising turn for Egypt’s protest movement.
…women have also been targeted, both by mobs and by military and security forces in crackdowns, a practice commonly used by Mubarak security against protesters. Lara Logan, a US correspondent for CBS television, was sexually assaulted by a frenzied mob in Tahrir on the day Mubarak stepped down, when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians came to the square to celebrate.
Sexual harassment of women, including against those who wear the Islamic headscarf or even cover their face, is common in the streets of Cairo. A 2008 report by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights says two-thirds of women in Egypt experienced sexual harassment on a daily basis. A string of mass assaults on women in 2006 during the Muslim feast following the holy month of Ramadan prompted police to increase the number of patrols to combat it but legislation providing punishment was never passed.
After Friday’s attack, many were already calling for another, much larger stand in the square against such assaults.
Another participant in Friday’s march, Ahmed Hawary, said a close female friend of his was attacked by a mob of men in Tahrir Square in January. She was rushed off in an ambulance, which was the only way to get her out, he said. After suffering from a nervous breakdown, she left Cairo altogether to work elsewhere in Egypt.
“Women activists are at the core of the revolution,” Hawary said. “They are the courage of this movement. If you break them, you break the spirit of the revolution.”