The sheer number of women sexually abused and gang raped in a single public square had become too big to ignore. Conservative Islamists in Egypt’s new political elite were outraged — at the women.
“Sometimes,” said Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi, a police general, lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist, “a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions.”
The increase in sexual assaults over the last two years and the ensuing battle over who is to blame has become a stark and painful illustration of the convulsions racking Egypt as it tries to reinvent itself after the toppling of the police state. (...)
But women have tried to harness at least one aspect of a society increasingly unmoored, by turning to a newly aggressive news media to go public, defying social taboos to demand attention for a problem the old government often denied. At the same time, some Islamist elected officials have also gone public — with the most patriarchal impulses in Egypt’s traditional culture that reveal deep hostility toward politically active women.
These officials declared that the female victims had invited the attacks by participating along with men in public protests. “How do they ask the Ministry of Interior to protect a woman when she stands among men?” said Reda Saleh Al al-Hefnawi, a lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, asked at a parliamentary meeting called to discuss the issue.