Dec 23 2011
EGYPT’S ARAB SPRING in full bloom: Now, beatings, shootings, and even stripping of women protesters are the new norm
Gives new meaning to the expression, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Egyptians were ecstatic over their removal of a secular dictator with the help of the Army at their side. Now, that same Army are the ones beating and killing the protesters. But wait, the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical IslamoFascists just won the most seats in a recent election and will soon take power. You ain’t seen nuthin’yet.
CNN Photos of the unidentified veiled woman were plastered on the front pages of global and local newspapers and appeared on Facebook. Twitter hashtags #TahrirWoman and #Bluebra emerged. The images stirred worldwide outrage because of the beating and because she was partially stripped in a Muslim society where women cover themselves for modesty.
When Azza Hilal Suleiman saw Egyptian military pummel the veiled woman, she stepped in to help and got kicked and clubbed by security forces, a beating that was captured in a video that went viral around the world and also showed live gunfire and the violent removal of a Muslim woman’s clothing. “A veiled woman was injured and the army stripped her,” she told CNN in an exclusive interview from her hospital bed in Cairo, suffering from painful skull fractures and facial cuts.
She couldn’t stand to see the repeated blows to the woman, who was dragged, kicked, partially stripped and then stomped. “So I ran and tried to cover her body and pull her out,” Suleiman said. “We tried to cover her and pull her away but they beat us. I didn’t feel anything after this.”
Suleiman was seen in a red coat in the same video that showed the veiled woman’s beating. Security forces rushed toward Suleiman and pushed her to the ground as she ran to the veiled woman’s side. “I was just trying to help her up after they exposed her body,” she said.
Suleiman is one of three people in the video interviewed by CNN, with one of them saying he was shot. A CNN crew also witnessed the security force beatings and shootings and saw other women stripped of some of their clothing.
Age 48, divorced and unemployed, Suleiman is the daughter of a deceased army general. She wanted to speak to CNN despite her agony. In an earlier visit to the hospital, she indicated how much she was suffering, saying, “My head is going to explode.”
Others came to Suleiman’s aid, such as businessman Ehab Hanna, who was also beaten up and shot after he tried to help the woman with the veil. “Azza covered her naked body. Then we tried to pull her up to take her to the field clinic. But I was shocked with a sting in my leg, thought it was a rock. I tried to walk but fell to the ground, so they started beating me and Azza relentlessly,” he told CNN.
Hanna said security forces left him alone when they thought he was dead. But when he moved, he was beaten. He said he and other injured people were on the ground for about 30 minutes because ambulances weren’t allowed into the area.
The beatings took place last Saturday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, amid a five-day stretch of assaults by police and defiant protests by demonstrators demanding that Egypt’s ruling military cede power to a civilian government.
A Health Ministry spokesman said 16 people died, including 14 by gunshots, according to Dr. Hisham Sheeha. The military has denied the use of live ammunition.
The woman has not been identified. She had been dressed in a traditional robe and headscarf, but as police clubbed her and dragged her down the street, those articles of clothing were pulled away, exposing her midriff and blue bra. The video showed one of the police officers aiming a foot at her upper abdomen and stamping squarely on it.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has since expressed “great regret” over the mistreatment of women protesters, but it has not apologized for the assaults, a fact that enrages demonstrators. But SCAF reiterated “its respect and appreciation for Egyptian women and their right in protesting and their active positive participation in the political life.”