Over 1,000 Egyptian campaigners have defied police terror to protest at state backed violence against democracy activists.
Demonstrators dressed in black as a sign of mourning and massed on the steps on the press syndicate building in Cairo, Egypt’s capital. They demanded the resignation of Habib el-Adly, the country’s interior minister, and Cairo’s chief of police.
The protests on Wednesday of last week came seven days after women protesters were stripped and brutalised by security agents during a demonstration calling for democracy in Egypt.
That protest, on 25 May, called for a boycott of a national referendum on constitutional changes. It was attacked by police and thugs from the ruling National Democratic Party.
Women were singled out and molested in full view of the world’s media. The demonstration was called by the Kifaya opposition movement.
These attacks caused an outcry across the country. The Association of Egyptian Mothers, which organised last week’s protest, said in a statement, “Female university students and other women arrested randomly by the security forces have been subject to the most brutal torture and humiliation in police stations.
“The security and intelligence services have turned into a wild monster, above all law and beyond all accountability.”
The outcry over the attacks did little to deter repression, however. Gabber Ibn Hayyan, an academic and leading activist in the opposition Muslim Brotherhood was seized on 27 May and tortured.
More than a thousand members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested in raids over the past few weeks, according to Human Rights Watch. These raids follow the arrest of Kifaya movement activists in February.
Egypt is a key US ally in the Middle East, and the Bush administration praises its dictator Hosni Mubarak for his “steps towards democracy”.
But the Kifaya movement says Mubarak’s reforms are fake, and are designed to pass power to his son Gamal. Kifaya has called for more protests on Wednesday of this week.