Protest-riven Tahrir Square is becoming a savage minefield for women, as French and American female journalists are brutally beaten and raped, and Egypt’s ‘naked blogger’ mobbed. The latest victim is journalist for channel France 3 Caroline Sinz.
Sinz and her cameraman were attacked in the square on Thursday. She says several youths and men tore off her clothes and beat her, humiliating her in a way that she claims could be considered rape. After almost an hour, other Egyptians came to her rescue.
On the same day, US-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, an author for The Guardian and the Toronto Star, announced she had suffered brutal sexual and physical assault. She was arrested in Tahrir by Egyptian riot police and says that during the 12 hours she spent in Cairo’s Interior Ministry, she had bones broken in both wrists by security officials, who also grabbed her breasts and genitals.
RT’s own correspondent Paula Slier is reporting from Cairo, and she notes in her Twitter that she is “not feeling safe walking around Tahrir”.
It seems the brutality is not reserved for foreigners, either. Egypt’s ‘naked blogger’ is also reported to have been mobbed: Aliaa al-Mahdy, a young Egyptian student who posted a photo of herself naked on her blog, was allegedly beaten by an angry crowd. CBS channel footage shows the 20-year-old being dragged into the seething mob and thrown to the ground. The channel claims it was Aliaa al-Mahdy, which is confirmed by viewers in their comments. However, the last entry on Aliaa’s Facebook page was 10 hours after the video went on air, causing some to wonder why she does not mention the incident. It simply reads, “no one knows my whereabouts, and whoever tries to attack me will get what they deserve.”
Introducing herself as a media and communications student, Aliaa al-Mahdy raised a storm by publishing her fully nude picture on her Facebook page and Twitter account last week. In another photo, she appears with a young man. She says her actions are intended to defend women’s rights and freedom of expression.
“Try models who posed naked for Fine Arts students in the 1970s, hide all art books, and destroy all naked statues. Then take off your clothes and look at yourselves in the mirror and burn those bodies of yours which you despise in order to get rid of your sexual complexes forever. Do that before you hurl your discriminatory insults at me or rob me of my freedom of expression.”
Her picture got more than 250,000 views on Facebook alone. It received a hurricane of comments, from furious to supportive. 50 Israeli women published online their group naked photo in support of al-Mahdy. But her campaign sparked fury among conservative factions in Egypt.
In February, when the first round of unrest in Egypt was in full swing, CBS journalist Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in Tahrir. The 39-year-old was reporting on the demos following President Mubarak’s decision to step down, when a crowd of celebrating protesters surrounded her. The journalist was brutally beaten and sexually abused, before a group of women supported by some 20 soldiers rescued her.
Furious over the military’s perceived failings over the past nine months, the Tahrir protesters vow they are not going to leave until the generals step down in favor of a civilian presidential council.