Rape, death threats and fatwas: Egypt opposition in crosshairs

1b6ccairos demonstrate square tahrir Rape, death threats and fatwas: Egypt opposition in crosshairs

Egyptian women demonstrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 27, 2012 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)Hard-line Egyptian clerics have called for the assassination of opposition leaders and claimed sexual assaults were justified against women protesters. Security has been bolstered around the homes of opposition members following the death threats. On Friday, opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahy said that death threats against him or other members of the opposition umbrella group, the National Salvation Front (NSF), would not deter him or his supporters from peaceful protests.“Our faith in the revolution kills any threats,” Sabahy said on his official Twitter account on Friday.Egypt was braced for wide-scale protests on Friday, fueled by the recent death threats and other statements advocating violence against anti-government demonstrators.Protesters are expected to march to central Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the presidential palace, both of which were the scene of violent clashes between police and demonstrators last week.Last week, hard-line Salafi Muslim cleric Mahmoud Shaaban, issued a de facto fatwa saying leaders of the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, saying
they would be condemned to death under Islamic law.The NSF leadership also includes Mohamed ElBaradei and former presidential contender Amr Mouss. Shaaban named both Sabahy and ElBaradei in the video, which was posted online.Another cleric, Wagdi Ghoneim, mirrored Shaaban’s sentiments by calling on supporters to “kill the thugs, criminals, and thieves who burn the country.””Strike with an iron fist. Otherwise, the country will be lost at your hand and they’ll say it is your fault,” he said. Ghoneim warned that if Morsi’s government does not act, citizens will.Death, Crucifixion or the amputation of limbs, were all cited by the clerics as punishments under Sharia law for those who attempted to overthrow their ruler.Islamist President Mohamed Morsi condemned the religious edicts on Thursday, saying “Practicing religious violence or threatening to do so has become one of the gravest challenges facing the Arab Spring,” Ahram Online cites a presidential statement as saying.”Some are promoting and inciting political violence while others who claim to speak in the name of religion are permitting ‘killing’ based on political differences and this is terrorism,” he continued.Morsi further called on all sides, religious and secular, to reject hate speech and language that incites people to violence.On Thursday, the country’s chief prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim ordered an investigation into Shaaban for his fatwa.Egypt’s interior ministry moved to provide extra security for Sabahy and ElBaradei following the threat, but Sabahy refused, saying he “lives and will continue to live as a private citizen.”Their edicts took on considerably more weight following the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid. Belaid, a secularist who was highly critical of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, was gunned down outside his home on Wednesday, sparking violent demonstrations across the country.Belaid’s murder “sounds danger alarms from Tunisia to Cairo, and warns of the cancerous growth of terrorist groups cloaked by religion and carrying out a plot to liquidate the opposition morally and physically,” The NSF said in a statement.­‘They are going to get raped’Further adding fuel to the fire, a third cleric justified rampant, mob fueled sexual assaults against women protesters in Tahrir Square.”They are going there to get raped,” cleric Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah said, characterizing the woman as “devils” who “speak with no femininity, no morals, no fear…” He further cast aspersion on opposition calls to make sexual assault against women a “red line” that must not be crossed.”Does that apply to these naked women?” he said. “Nine out of 10 of them are Crusaders (Christians) and the rest are … widows with no one to rein them in.”He further implored them to “Learn from Muslim women, be Muslims.”Violent mobs often consisting of hundreds of men have been responsible for a series of increasingly frequent and brutal sexual assaults against women. The highest-ever number of such assaults was reported on the January 25 protest to mark the two-year-anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.At least 19 women were attacked, with one having to undergo surgery after her genitals were sliced with a knife, Global Post cites health officials as saying.Women of all ages, veiled and unveiled, have been attacked on the square, the paper cites activists who compile reports on sexual violence as saying. The say the attackers are using the women as a political tool.“These people are not revolutionaries. They are part of the counterrevolution, trying to stop us from succeeding,” 52-year-old Nadia Refaat, a self-described leftist and fem
inist protester in Tahrir, told the Global Post. “They are trying to scare women. But we will not be afraid.”

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Rape, death threats and fatwas: Egypt opposition in crosshairs

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