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Mariam Fam and Caroline Alexander – Bloomberg – Tuesday, 24 January 2012 (originally published 18 Jan)
A group of men gathered around Amira El Bakry in Tahrir Square as she brandished a newspaper photo that shocked many Egyptians. It showed troops dragging a female protester along the street, her robe ripped open to reveal a blue bra and bare midriff.
“Is this OK by you?” the 25-year-old El Bakry, her voice shaking with anger, asked the men, as they squinted at the picture and one suggested the protester was trying to cause a scene. Later, El Bakry marched through Tahrir with thousands of women to condemn the brutality and demand that Egypt’s military rulers step down. Some at the Dec. 20 rally wore tight jeans tucked in boots, others were in flowing robes and full-face veils. “The women of Egypt are a red line,” they chanted.
The scene recalled the mass protests of a year ago, also joined by women of all ages and backgrounds. El Bakry supported those efforts to topple Hosni Mubarak, yet she’s worried about the new political order too. Mubarak-era army chiefs are running the country, and Islamist parties with traditional notions of women and their rights are poised to win elections that end this week. “That could be a lose-lose situation for us,” she said. “But we have a role to play, and we’ll have to keep fighting for it . . .”