Egypt: Egypt’s Brotherhood top officials face investigation over attacks on women protesters.
Two top Muslim Brotherhood officials are being investigated by Egypt’s Attorney General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud over their role in allegedly inciting President Mohamed Morsi supporters to attack female protesters around Tahrir Square last Friday.
Mohamed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian are under investigation, Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud himself had only the day before defied an order to step down from his position after President Morsi attempted to push him out after a court acquitted former top Hosni Mubarak officials of their role in the infamous “Camel Battle” during the 18 days of protests that ousted his rule.
The move to fire the Attorney General was largely met with criticism by the country’s judiciary and was seen as an attempt by Morsi to take more control of the largely independent branch.
But Mahmoud remained defiant and stayed in his post.
The charges being brought against Beltagy and Erian were the result of at least one female activist who claimed Brotherhood supporters sought out and actively attacked women at the demonstration, which spun out of control into opposing factions attacking each other on Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately for Egypt, sexual violence toward women is nothing new. June this year saw some of the worst attacks against women, with both foreigners and Egyptians reporting that they had been sexually assaulted in the square take place following the disbanding of Parliament.
“I was walking in the square and was hoping to be part of the calls for the SCAF to leave power when a man behind me grabbed by butt and started saying disgusting things to me,” one woman told Bikyamasr.com.
“He asked if I was a slut and then swore at me when I yelled at him,” she added.
Others also reported being harassed on social media networks, highlighting the growing concern facing women in the country.
Earlir in June, an anti-sexual harassment demonstration organized by over 20 Egyptian women’s groups in protest against the recent escalation of assaults in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was attacked about an hour and half after it began by unknown troublemakers.
The participants reported being attacked by a mob of “thugs” who attempted to throw rocks and glass at them, but the clash was over quickly as volunteers securing the protest intervened to stop it.
This was not the first time a women’s rights march was attacked in Tahrir Square.
Last March, and on International Women’s Day, a march of tens of women was attacked by a cynical mob of men who did not like women protesting for more rights.
Several female protesters were injured and one woman had to have 8 stitches in her head. Almost all of them were groped and sexually assaulted in the attack.
A 2008 study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) found that well over two-thirds of Egyptian women are sexually harassed daily in the country.
The participants held signs that read “It is my right to protest safely,” “Groping your sister is shameful for the square” and “Be a man and protect her instead of harassing her.”
“We are fed up,” protester Mai Abdel Hafez, 24, told Bikyamasr.com.
“We came to deliver a message that it is our right to protest and we will not avoid the square in fear of harassment,” she said right before the attack took place.
And on Monday, once again, that message was forgotten by yet more criminal activity, but under the watchful eye of the police, women once more suffered.