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Two videos, two battles – Egypt’s unfinished revolution

Richard Hall

Two disturbing videos have emerged in recent days that highlight two different battles being fought in Egypt’s ongoing revolution.

The first, released on Friday, captures the brutal mass sexual assault of a woman in Tahrir Square last week – the latest in a spate of similar attacks that have become depressingly routine.

The video shows a large crowd in which a group of men are dragging a woman this way and that, while others try to free her. The clip goes on for an uncomfortably long time before she is eventually bundled into a nearby restaurant away from the crowd.

The second video, which seems to have garnered the most headlines, shows a naked man being beaten by security forces at a demonstration outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday night. Protests against the country’s president, Mohammad Morsi, have gathered pace in recent weeks as his opponents accuse him of betraying the goals of the revolution.

The man in the video, later named as 48-year-old Hamada Saber, is surrounded by a dozen or so security officers who appear to be dragging him towards a police van – kicking and punching him as they do so. Remarkably, Saber later laid blame on the protesters for the violence he suffered.

Both videos provide a wake-up call to those who thought Egypt’s revolution was over. Two years on from the removal of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians still suffer brutality at the hands of the security forces, and women still suffer appalling sexism, and worse.

Reacting to the video showing the security forces attacking Saber, Heba Morayef, the head of the Egypt branch of Human Rights Watch, said of Morsi: “It’s not just that he hasn’t delivered on any changes, it’s that he hasn’t publicly acknowledged that there is a serious problem of police abuse.”

Meanwhile, activists have begun a fight back against the sexual assaults in Tahrir. Members of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault patrol Tahrir Square and intervene when they witness attacks taking place – as they can be seen doing in the first video. They also try to educate and raise awareness of the problem.

Explaining the purpose of the group, Engy Ghozlan, one of its members, said: “This is our country, and we will not be silent about sexual harassment, not the type that happens to us every day, nor that of Tahrir. It will end, it cannot continue, because we believe Egypt deserves better.”

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