I didn’t want to write about this.
Hell, I didn’t even want to know about it.
I remember the first time I heard of it while I was in Amman. Eblis sent me an e-mail titled “Behold the revolution in Egypt” with a link to malek’s post on it and I stupidly clicked on it and was presented with a reality that I didn’t want or desire to confront.
The story is as follows for the those of you who didn’t hear about it: It was the first day of Eid, and a new film was opening downtown. Mobs of males gatherd trying to get in, but when the show was sold out, they decided they will destroy the box office. After accomplishing that, they went on what can only be described as a sexual frenxy: They ran around grabbing any and every girl in sight, whether a niqabi, a Hijabi or uncoverd. Whether egyptian or foreigner. Even pregnant ones. They grabbed them, molested them, tried to rip their cloths off and rape them, all in front of the police, who didn’t do shit. The good people of downtown tried their best to protect the girls. Shop owners would let the girls in and lock the doors, while the mobs tried to break in. Taxi drivers put the girls in the cars while the mobs were trying to break the glass and grab the girls out. It was a disgusting pandamonium of sexual assaults that lasted for 5 houres from 7:30 PM to 12:30 am, and it truns my stomach just to think about it.
I called my father when I heard of that happening, and he informed me that he didn’t hear of it at all. They watched Al Jazeerah, CNN, flipped through opposition newspapers, and nothing. Nada. Nobody mentioned it. As if it didn’t happen.
But it did.
The bloggers available downtown documented the whole thing, and provided pictures of it as well. Reading their accounts I can’t help by feel my heart being torn on what the people of the country has turned to. The one that broke my heart the most was Sharqawi’s account (remember, he is the guy who got sexually assaulted by the police during interrogation ) and how it suddenly danwed at him that what happend to him wasn;t an isolated incident. That The Police forces didn;t came from another planet, that they were born and raised egyptians, amongst the egyptian people, the same egyptian people who have produced those mobs who found it in their right to attack girls in middle of crowded downtown for 5 houres under the police’s watchdul eyes. The ones who approached the police asking them to do something were told : “what do you want us to do? It’s Eid. Happy Eid to you too!” The same response was given to women who went to the police stations to report the incidents. The police refused to do their jobs and take a report, because it would probably reflect badly on their downtown peers. Some people were surprised at the Police’s reaction, but the majoirty of us weren’t. Those are the same police officers who facilitated the assaults on women last year during the referendum. This is business as usual for them.
What was unusual was the silence of the press. Nobody was mentioning it. Nobody was bringing it up. It seemed like there was some consensus of just not reporting it and maybe it will just go away. What at first seemed like a conspiracy got later on confirmed by my sources in the news media. Al Jazeera had taped the incidents but were forbidden to air it at the request of the egyptian authorities. The editor at a leading newspaper refused to touch it with a 6 foot pole. This was going to be one of those incidents that only the blogsphere would talk about, while the mainstream media ignored.
Until Nawarah Negm blew the whole thing wide open on live television on the Dream Channel.
She was brought in as a writer to be part of a fluffy segment on Mona Al Shazly show talking about the Ramadan TV shows, and the girl’s first response to the question was: “What Television shows do you want to discuss, when egyptian girls are assaulted on the streets of Cairo while the police watched and did nothing?” When Mona counterd that she never heard of it before, Nawarah told her all about it, in details and how it’s all over the internet.
All of Egypt saw that. The cat was out of the bag. A cover-up was no longer feasiable.
When I spoke to the brilliant Nawarah yesterday, she told me that she was debating talking about it or not on television, that was until she was faced with the camera and found herself on the air, and just couldn’t hold herself back. She went for it, and god bless her for having the guts to do that.
The next day, Mona Al Shazly went and did a segment on the incident and interviewed the people on the street. The video of the segment is here (arabic, sorry). She even contacted the Ministery of Interior for a statement. You know what their response was?
“We didn’t hear of anything. This didn’t happen. Things were just crowded in downtown that day, but no girls were assaulted, because no police reports were filed in that regard!”
I am not one of those people who claims to be above hate. I do hate, and I hate quite passionately, the same way when I love I love passionately. But I have to say that I have never hated anyone or group as much as I hate the egyptian police at this moment. It’s a hate of unequaled proportions. I really wouldn’t mind them all dying horrible deaths right now. A police force that doesn’t protect its citizens, especially its women, has no business being on the streets. They become nothing more than an organized armed gang now in my opinion, even lower, because they are shaming everyone who wore theat uniform before and did his job. THEY DESERVE TO DIE!
Anyway, the TV show brought it up, and now Egypt’s leading newspaper, Al Masry Al youm, featured two columns on the incident. More is bound to come and this national shame will be exposed and confronted.
Now, the egyptian blogsphere has been abuzz in debate over the incident. Some are writing posts on why it happend, possible causes, what it means, the social and political factors that could possibly lead to this behavior, and quite honestly, I can’t be botherd. I don’t care why it happend. Rape is not up for debate. I just care that it happend. What we should discuss right now isn’t what caused it, but what kind of horrible punishment that should be enacted on any egyptian male who thinks that it is well into his right to sexually harass a female on the street. That’s it. Pure and simple.
I am often told that I am too westernized or too liberal by people I know, and they are not wrong or inaccurate. My values are for the most part western values. However, there are two middle-eastern traits in me that I can never give up: The first is my stupid insistince on always paying for the bill when I am with a girl I am dating, and the second is my protectiveness of women. I have no tolerance for those who assault women sexually in any way, and that almost got me kicked out of my school in Boston when I broke the leg of one of my roommates who raped a friend of mine. The incident only resulted in him getting a broken leg because people stoped me before I killed him. And I had the full intention of killing him. Rapists do not deserve to live. And that’s how I feel towards every single one of those pieces of shit that attacked women on the streets of cairo the other day.
People can debate solutions based on dialogue, education, or whatever and that’s their right. My solution is far simpler: Any egyptian man whose mother raised him right should beat the living crap of any man he sees on the street that assaults or harasses a female. Think of them as your sisters, and act accordingly. The Police isn’t interested in protecting the women, and that’s fine, but that means that we should take this job as our own. Those who insist on acting like animals will be treated as such, and deserve no sympathy or mercy from us. I assure you, if we did this, if we undertook this as part of our national duty, there will no longer be a problem on our streets.
That is all!