Noha Radwan on being assaulted by pro-Mubarak thugs

Dr. Noha Radwan, a professor of comparative literature at U.C. Davis, was in Cairo during the height of the counter-revolution unleashed by the pro-Mubarak forces on February 2. She got caught by the pro-Mubarak, baltagiyeh thugs as she tried to cross the “front line” that divided them from her friends in “liberated” Tahrir Square.
Here’s her account of what happened next:

    From behind me I heard someone cry, “She is with them. Get her. Get her!” Before I realized what was happening, my arms were seized by two musclemen who walked me away from the square. All I could hear as the mob closed in on me was: “She is with them… with them… the agents…the Americans… Baradei’s dirty supporter.” Many thugs pulled my hair while others volunteered slaps and slurs. In a matter of seconds my shirt was ripped open and my mouth was full of blood. We passed an army tank and I saw the officer on top. “Help!” I screamed. The soldiers were waiting for his orders. Bystanders called on him. “They are going to kill her,” someone said. All my energies were focused on staying conscious, putting my head up for air and down to avoid further hits. I wrapped my jacket around my body and my shoulder bag, which had my ID and my camera, and cried for the officer’s help again. Finally he ordered the soldiers to jump into the crowd and pull me up. They led me into the inside of the tank where I joined a few other soldiers. They pointed out that my head was bleeding. I had not yet registered my head injury, which must have been caused by a rock projectile. I also had not registered that my phone was stolen out of my back pocket and that a gold chain had been yanked off my neck. One of the soldiers offered me a big kerchief to staunch the bleeding and another held out his water bottle. I could hear the crowds raging outside. Two other young men, one of them a journalist, were brought into the tank a little later. Both were badly injured. It was not until darkness fell, about two hours later, that the officer felt that it was safe enough for him to call an ambulance to take us to a nearby hospital. My injuries were less serious than those suffered by the two other protestors and as I learned later, there were others who suffered much more serious and even fatal injuries. Men and women were brutalized. A young woman, Sally Zahran, died of brain hemorrhage after an attack not far from Tahrir. Mubarak’s thugs unleashed their ugliest face and to top it off, they resorted to their familiar technique of sexually abusing female protesters.

If you read the whole of the wonderful, moving article in which Radwan recounts this testimony, you will read how common the use of sexual violence against anti-regime protesters (and random sexual assaults on women in general) had been for several years, in Mubarak’s Egypt. You will also read how wonderful Radwan found the solidarity and respect that she and other female protesters experienced during the long, joyful hours they were able to spend inside Tahrir Square.
This is a really useful antidote to all the Islamophobia that’s been unleashed around the reports of the recent sexual assault on CBS correspondent Lara Logan by a mob of unknown affiliation in Cairo last week. For an excellent counter to all the Islamophobes’ argument, read this piece by Maya Mikdashi, also on Jadaliya.

2 thoughts on “Noha Radwan on being assaulted by pro-Mubarak thugs

  1. Salah

    Helena,
    Your article insulting 80 Millions of Egyptians who are more suffer that your example.
    However looks the west never learning and they as always arms the new friendly regimes in ME.
    Egyptians replant there regime because their suffering socially and economically also from corruptions, today British PM visiting Egypt companion with 8 biggest UK Aram Companies selling arms to Egypt!!
    Is this what people in Egypt waiting for?

  2. Helena

    Salah, really, read Dr. Radwan’s article, and my little blog post, more carefully. Neither she nor I were writing to insult “80 million Egyptians.” (I believe that she herself is Egyptian-American.) What she was noting was that this gang of pro-Mubarak thugs (baltagis) undertook a nasty sexual assault against her on the street– and that this was quite in line with what the Mubarak security services had been doing to demonstrators (esp. females) for many years– and that this attitude of attacking women in a sexual way had spread quite widely under Mubarak.
    But the democracy demonstrators had restored respect for women in a v. important way during their actions. To me, that’s really good news. Under Mubarak, the streets of Cairo were quite hazardous for women.

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