Egyptian journalist, feminist and blogger (and now US dual citizen) Mona Eltahawy tweeted the above picture at about 9 am today. She was back in Cairo to report on the latest round of protest actions at Tahrir Square, but the local police got hold of her. What followed, according to her tweet-stream, was this:
It was followed, a few hours later, by this:
She also tweeted this pic, captioned “My right hand is so swollen I can’t close it”:
She suffered fractures to that hand, as well as her left arm.
Worse than the injuries, though, were the indignities that accompanied them — indignities all too well known to Egyptian women, especially since the Tahrir protests began:
She adds: “God knows what wuld’ve happened if I wasn’t dual citizen (tho they brought up detained US students) & that I wrote/appeared various media.”
Yes, it helps that the US State Department promptly “expressed concern” about her. No doubt that’s what mitigated her ill-treatment, so that all she was left with was a few broken bones and some crotch-grabbing.
But of course it’s a lie that nobody knows why she was arrested and beaten. Everybody knows, or should know, why the “fuckings” did that. Certainly Mona herself knows. It’s because she’s a prominent journalist, feminist and vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement. Egyptian women who turned out at Tahrir Square have routinely been subjected to “virginity tests” which tested for nothing (since virginity can’t be clinically determined, let alone by military or police agents); they were flat-out sexual assaults, meant to send an intimidating message: Go home and be quiet, or we’ll do worse.
But, happily, they didn’t work. If this is anything to go by, Mona, like so many other Egyptian women, has only been galvanized to fight back harder:
That spirit will serve her well. Egypt’s fight is far from over, and it needs all the gutsy people it can get. Until a democratic civilian government takes over and the military high command is purged, don’t expect the generals to relinquish control. And DO expect to hear a lot more about beatings and sexual abuse of female activists, too.