December 19, 2011
Caroline Sinz of France 3 television was in Tahrir Square on November 23 when a gang of men beat her and tore the clothes from her body. By her own account, they proceeded to molest her in ways which “would be considered rape.” This behavior continued for three quarters of an hour. Sinz’s cameraman was also beaten.
Another (this time Egyptian) female journalist named Mona Eltahawy was sexually assaulted while at the Egyptian Interior Ministry after being arrested in a street, again adjacent to Tahrir Square. As Eltahawy Tweeted, “5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.”
This was while she was in the custody of the authorities, ostensibly the country’s moderates. She was later released with no statement on why she had been held, though the result (aside from psychosexual trauma) was a pair of broken wrists.
In modern Egypt, at least for women and especially for Western women, there is a Technicolor nightmare of “damned if you do get sexually assaulted by the civilians, damned if you don’t get sexually assaulted by the authorities.”
With the election of those who have even less esteem for women and divergent beliefs in general, the soundtrack has taken on an ominously Hitchcockian tone. This film is called Return to Terror Square. Subtitles are to be decided at the viewers’ discretion. This will be a performance little promoted and running only in those out-of-the-way outlets so the majority of viewers are unlikely to be unduly disturbed.
The drama progresses and the scene is set for the trilogy’s last installment, though we will have to wait for its premiere at a later date. In the meantime all the worst fears are realized and all the basest impulses indulged. Will our hero (whoever he may be, assuming he exists) rise to topple the despots and chivalrously hold malign minions liable for their misdeeds? Will the final chapter be given more exposure than this recent sequel? Will anyone still be left to care when and if humanity is restored?
The real horror story here is the lack of shock, the absence of outrage, and the casual acceptance that devious forces are now at work both in the corridors of power and the streets which slither through the Egyptian theater.