A horrific video of a nearly naked woman being attacked in a crowd at Tahrir Square, Cairo during the inauguration festivities for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Sunday has created a scandal in the wake of celebrations for the new leader.
The video shows a woman wearing only a black shirt, surrounded by a group of men who appear to be ripping off her clothes and beating her. She has enormous bruises on the lower half of her body, which is completely naked. At the end of the two-minute video she is carried, bloody and bruised, to apparent safety in a vehicle. The video went viral on Facebook and Twitter, prompting anguished debate on the sites of activists against sexual harassment and violence in Egypt.
The brutal attack is especially embarrassing considering Sisi’s recent promise to end the the pattern of sexual assaults that have occurred in the crowds that have been gathering in Tahrir Square since the mass protests there three years ago. Sisi vowed during his campaign to “restore the sense of shame” to the perpetrators of sexual crimes, and his government recently announced it would toughen up the laws on sexual harassers.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Monday that seven men had been arrested for harassment during the inauguration festivities, but could not link the arrests directly to the men in the video. “The celebrations included large crowds that reached thousands and millions in some cases, and harassment happens in these crowds,” Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told the New York Times, saying the attacks were difficult to prevent but that “the police confront it in a vigorous way.”