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10,000 Egyptian women march against military violence and rule
Women organise massive rally against military brutality following spate of violent acts against female protesters that have shocked millions; demonstrators call for an end to army rule
Salma Shukrallah, Tuesday 20 Dec 2011
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The picture of the woman protester assaulted by military which triggered the uproar (Photo: Reuters)
Women march against military violence and military rule as it merges with demonstration at press syn
Women march against military violence and military rule (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Poster compares actions of Egypt army to Israel's (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Women march against military violence and military rule (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Prompted by the image of three soldiers stripping a female protester naked and violently assaulting her, thousands of women marched on Tuesday from Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the nearby Press Syndicate chanting, “Egyptian women are a red line” and “Down with military rule.”

Women of all ages and backgrounds converged on the Mogamma administrative complex in Tahrir Square after calls went out on Facebook for a women’s protest march to express condemnation of images – currently circulating on online media venues and in newspapers – of young women being harassed, beaten and stripped naked by military personnel.

Some marchers wore headscarves, others didn’t; others still wore the niqab, or full Islamic face veil. Some Coptic-Christian women participating in the march also carried images of slain Coptic activist Mina Danial, who was shot dead during an attack on Coptic demonstrators by the military in October. Other marchers carried Egyptian flags bearing the cross-and-crescent symbol.

Older women were also among the demonstrators, braving the long march from Tahrir to the Press Syndicate despite weak health and obvious distress over recent events. Many mothers took part with their daughters.

“I came because I oppose violence against women; because I oppose violence against any Egyptian,” said protester Noha El-Khouly, who learned of the march from her daughter.

“Women have been targeted since the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes last month, when men were sent in to systematically harass female activists,” said protester Somaia Ahmed, a 17-year-old member of the ‘No to Military Trials’ campaign. “In the last sit-in, women were the military’s primary target. These attacks are no coincidence.”

Although Ahmed believes Tuesday’s march is more humanitarian in nature than political – with most women coming simply to register their opposition to violence – several of the chants heard at the event bore deeply political overtones. Many condemned military rule, while others demanded a swift handover of executive power to an elected civil authority.

“Don’t be scared, say it loud, the council must go,” they chanted, along with, “We want a civil state, down with military rule.”

Protesters also drew parallels between Egypt’s ruling military council and the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. “The council transformed the army to become like the police,” some chanted.

In 2005, several female protesters were similarly stripped naked and assaulted by police-linked thugs in an effort to terrorise women away from political participation.

Women at Tuesday’s march carried banners depicting a woman’s face and the arm of a soldier that read, “Your hand should be cut off.”

As women marched from Tahrir Square to Talaat Harb Street in downtown Cairo, dozens of well-wishers waved in solidarity from surrounding balconies. Protesters called on those watching from their homes and offices to come down and join the march.

Numerous passersby, meanwhile, stopped to express their sympathy for the marchers’ cause. A number of men, eager to help, surrounded the women, acting as human shields against any potential attack.

Protesters’ numbers increased gradually until the march reached the Press Syndicate, where another demonstration was being staged by parliamentarians similarly protesting military violence.

By the time the women’s march reached the syndicate, the number of demonstrators had exceeded some 10,000, after which they eventually made their way back to Tahrir Square.



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hesham
21-12-2011 03:20pm
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This is Egypt
Hunderd years age,a group of English ladies struggled ver hard to win the right of voting for English women at that time rich men (gentelmen) only enjoyed such privilege The socity and media considered those women nuts.They were called bad names,though some of them from high class families Recently Britain was celebrating the memorial of suffergates Egypt will celebrte the memorial of our female heriones soon not after 100 years. I live in london many Britons changed their openions about Egyptian women thanks to scarfices of our 25th Jan revolution
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patrick
21-12-2011 02:29pm
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Shame on you Egyptian soldiers and police
Egyptian soldiers and police : Shame on You !!! you can only fight against women , what about ISRAEL ??????
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anne
21-12-2011 11:20am
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Military's brutality against women
I was shocked to see Egyptian military police clubbing and trambling on a young Egyptian woman protester. The woman was hit and kicked repeatedly by at least 5 officers while she was on the ground! How shameful and disgusting. The photos are on youtube for all the world to see. The Military Council leaders must resign and face trial. Egypt's namae has sunk very deeply and their military rulers have tarnished the good name of Egypt. Time for them to disappear as they are all part of the war criminals of Mubarak's gang.
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Akanbi
21-12-2011 07:46am
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WAS MUBARAK NOT A SAINT NOW?
I sympathize with the daughters and mothers of Egypt as they go through this travesty of justice and modern behaviour. So, what creed or tenet are the Egyptian Military Council leaders following? Certainly not the injunctions in the Holy Quran, that enjoins respect and dignity for the female folks. I predict that the days of the military junta has become numbered and the countdown to their inglorious exit has started from the day the brave lady was dragged along the road and stripped naked. For want of a better word to use, Egypt is now transiting from the sainthood of former President Mubarak down to the Shaytanhood of the head of the military juntaa. And Allah is still in His Majesty and full of Knowledge.
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Ibrahim Abdelkerim
21-12-2011 07:26am
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A message to Essam Sultan
Essam Sultan suggests granting immunity to the SCAF. Please tell Essam that he does not have the right to even suggest that. DID he ask the families whose children were killed by the SCAF? Did he ask the 88 million Egyptians who lost one year as a result of SCAF maneuvering to abort their revolution? Did he ask the SCAF to return Egyptian assets they may have embezzled during the past thirty years? Did he ask the SCAF to declare their net worth and tell the Egyptian people how they made it? Did he ask the SCAF if they have any dealings with Israel - commercials or otherwise - that would be uncovered if they leave power. The SCAF is now out after all of the killings and crimes they have committed in the past 10 months and we do not need to offer them any incentives to leave power. I would hope that Essam Sultan thinks next time before he opens his mouth.
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