x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Egyptian activist attacked on Cairo's streets

Assailants attack on a prominent Egyptian activist as she left work at Cairo's state television headquarters is captured on video.

Nawara Negm, centre, was attacked by assailants  on Wednesday as she left her place of work at Cairo's state television headquarters.
Nawara Negm, centre, was attacked by assailants on Wednesday as she left her place of work at Cairo's state television headquarters.

CAIRO // Assailants attacked a prominent Egyptian activist as she left work at Cairo's state television headquarters in the latest incident of violence against the protest movement to be captured on video.

A clip posted on social networks showed a small crowd punching and kicking Nawara Negm late on Wednesday, and hurling abuse at her. Her assailants could be heard saying she wanted to drive a wedge between the ruling military and the people. Others called her an "agent", presumably of a foreign power.

Ms Negm said the beating left her with a swollen eye, but that she was otherwise unhurt. She said the attack took place while scores of policemen and soldiers assigned to protect the television building stood by and watched.

"I am not the type that runs away. I stood my ground," she told the privately owned ONTV station.

Ms Negm is the daughter of Ahmed Fouad Negm, Egypt's best known satirical poet and a longtime critic of the former president Hosni Mubarak. She was a key figure in the 18-day uprising that forced him to step down last February. Also a newspaper columnist and blogger, she has been sharply critical of the generals who took over from the ousted president.

Ms Negm was questioned by prosecutors this week over her alleged role in deadly clashes last month between troops and protesters in Cairo.

The ruling generals have repeatedly accused some of the activists behind the uprising of illegally receiving foreign funds, and the state media has portrayed them as reckless troublemakers.

The country's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, delivered a thinly veiled warning to anti-military activists planning protests to mark the January 25 anniversary of the start of the uprising.

In comments published on Wednesday, he said Egypt was facing "grave dangers" but assured the nation that the armed forces would protect it. Field Marshal Tantawi was Mr Mubarak's defence minister for 20 years.

The activists charge that the generals have botched the transition to civilian rule, allowed the killing by troops of at least 80 protesters since October, rights violations and the hauling about 12,000 civilians before military tribunals for trial.

The military's image as the nation's most powerful institution and its protector has been dealt a serious blow when activists posted on social networks video of troops using brutal force against protesters, including a woman whom they stripped half naked and kicked and stomped on her while she lay on the ground. Other clips showed troops urinating on protesters from the roof of the parliament building.

The former US president Jimmy Carter, who met with Egyptian leaders in Cairo this month, wrote in a report posted on the website of his Atlanta-based NGO that Field Marshal Tantawi had told him during a meeting that the videos were "all falsified" and that soldiers beating the half-naked woman were "actually helping the woman reclothe herself".

Activists are touring cities to show the public the videos of the troops' brutality. The campaign is called "Liars," a reference to the military's repeated denials of responsibility for the killing of protesters.