Egypt votes as women struggle for their rights

Egypt votes as women struggle for their rights

Egypt votes as women struggle for their rights

Egyptian women march in Cairo as they angered by the recent violence used against them in clashes between police and rioters. AP photo

Voting in election runoffs for Egypt’s first parliament since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster resumed yesterday without the long lines outside polling centers seen in previous rounds of the staggered vote.

The balloting is in the second round of the election, with voting in mostly rural areas. A third and final round is to be held in early January. The vote comes amid growing calls for the ruling military to step down.

The brutality shown by troops to protesters calling for the country’s military rulers to immediately step down has caused an uproar in Egypt. On Dec. 19, some thousands of women marched in central Cairo, demanding the military step down and expressing their anger over the abuse of women protesters by troops during the crackdown. Tuesday’s dramatic protest was fueled by the widely circulated images of abuses of women. Many of the marchers touted the photo of the young woman whose clothes were partially pulled off by troops, baring her down to her blue bra, as she struggled on the ground.

 “Tantawi stripped your women naked, come join us,” the crowd chanted to passers-by, referring to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council that has ruled Egypt since the Feb. 11 fall of Hosni Mubarak. “The daughters of Egypt are a red line,” they chanted.

Even before the protest was over, the military council issued an unusually strong statement of regret for what it called “violations” against women a quick turnaround after days of dismissing the significance of the abuse. It promised it was taking measures to punish those responsible for violations.

However, the Egyptian foreign minister said yesterday that Egypt would not accept any interference in its internal affairs, in response to harsh comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the way security forces dealt with women protesters. In a speech on Dec. 19, Clinton criticized the actions of Egyptian security forces as showing the “systematic degradation” of women that “disgraces the state”, some of the strongest U.S. language used against Egypt’s new rulers. “Egypt does not accept any interference in its internal affairs and conducts communications and clarifications concerning statements made by foreign officials,” the state news agency quoted Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr as saying. “Matters like that are not taken lightly,” he was quoted as saying, in his response to a question about Clinton’s remarks. The clashes since Dec. 16 have left at least 16 dead and hundreds wounded. Activists have called for a major protest on Dec. 23 to demand an apology for the attacks on women.

Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff