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CAIRO–Thousands of Egyptian women have taken to the streets of Cairo in a mass demonstration against the military’s brutality against women during a crackdown on protesters that shocked many in the largely conservative society.
Ringed by a protective chain of male protesters, women from different social classes and religious background gathered in Tahrir Square Tuesday and marched through the streets of Cairo. Many carried signs with images of soldiers dragging protesters by the hair and kicking and stomping on them on the ground. One image was particularly shocking, showing a veiled woman who had been partially stripped by soldiers who dragged and beat her on the ground.
“They say they are here to protect us, but they are stripping us naked,” the chants echoed through the streets of Cairo.
Social-media-savvy protesters have widely circulated some of the most brutal images of the crackdown.
Those images drew the ire of the United Nations rights chief and unusually harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Addressing students at Georgetown University on Monday, Mrs. Clinton said the events in Egypt in recent days were shocking, and she accused the Egyptian security forces and extremists of specifically targeting women.
“And now, women are being attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets,” she said. “This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.”
Over the past few days, the military has dealt with the protesters much more roughly than at any other time since Mr. Mubarak stepped down. The crackdown may reflect the military’s fury over the activists’ distribution of videos showing soldiers bludgeoning women and other protesters. The weak showing of the pro-democracy movement in the parliamentary elections that began last month may have also emboldened the military.
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