Angered by the indelible images of soldiers beating, stripping, and abusing female protesters, thousands of women marched on Cairo's streets Tuesday night in a beautiful and inspiring show of solidarity in Egypt. The march (video below) comes at a time when the world has been watching the violence in Egypt, particularly against women, with helpless anger. An unidentified woman in particular, who's now known on Twitter as "Tahrir Woman" or "Tahrir Girl", has become a galvanizing image of protest after she was stripped, beaten, stomped and dragged through a Cairo street--an episode which calls to mind 60 Minutes' Lara Logan's horrifying sexual assault back in February. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton succinctly puts it, "Women protesters have been rounded up and subjected to horrific abuse. Journalists have been sexually assaulted. And now, women are being attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets ...This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people." That set the stage for yesterday's march. "Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history ... a rarity in the Arab world," reports The New York Times.
The New York Times adds, "In Egypt’s stiffly patriarchal culture, previous attempts to organize women’s events in Tahrir Square during this year’s protests almost always fizzled or, in one case in March, ended in the physical harassment of a small group of women by a larger crowd of men." That did not happen last night. From Twitter reports and YouTube videos, a group of men had linked arms, a human chain if you will, to protect the marching women.
Egypt's ruling military council, who had previously denied the violence issued a statement Tuesday evening offering “sincerest apologies to the great women of Egypt for what happened” and promised that those responsible would be reprimanded. An apology from the same people who routinely blame the victim and yesterday suggested that protesters "deserve to be thrown into Hitler's ovens" just doesn't seem like it's worth much.