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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Egypt: Anti-Sex Harrassment Marchers Attacked by Massive Mob

CAIRO—A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women marching in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to end sexual harassment in Egypt.

Witnesses say male supporters who were there to protect the march were overwhelmed by the mob. The women were assaulted for several minutes before some escaped to a nearby building.

Some of the marchers had been carrying posters that said, “The people want to cut the hand of the sexual harasser,” and chanting, “The Egyptian girl says it loudly, harassment is barbaric.”

Women's Liberation...Islam-style
Reports of assaults on women in Tahrir, the epicentre of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year, have been on the rise with a new round of mass protests to denounce a mixed verdict against the ousted leader and his sons in a trial last week, and to demand that Ahmed Shafiq, a former senior official in Mubarak’s ousted regime, be disqualified from next week’s presidential runoff.

Protesters and activists met Wednesday to organize a campaign to prevent sexual harassment in the square.

They recognize it is part of a bigger social problem that has largely gone unpunished in Egypt. But the phenomenon is trampling on their dream of creating in Tahrir a model of a state that respects civil liberties and civic responsibility, which they had hoped would emerge after Mubarak’s ouster.

“Enough is enough,” said Abdel-Fatah Mahmoud, a 22-year-old engineering student, who met Wednesday with friends to organize patrols of the square in an effort to deter attacks against women. “No matter what is behind this, it is unacceptable. It shouldn’t be happening on our streets let alone Tahrir.”

No official numbers exist for attacks on women in the square because police do not go near the area, and women rarely report such incidents. But activists and protesters have reported a number of particularly violent assaults on women in the past week. Many suspect such assaults are organized by opponents of the protests to weaken the spirit of the protesters and drive people away.

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