CAIRO (AP) — Unidentified assailants attacked a prominent Egyptian activist as she left work at Cairo’s Nileside state television headquarters late on Wednesday, in the latest incident of violence against the protest movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s regime nearly a year ago to be captured on video.
A clip posted on social networks showed a small crowd punching and kicking Nawarah Negm, and hurling abuse at her. Her assailants could be heard saying she wanted to drive a wedge between the ruling military and the people. Others called her an "agent," presumably of a foreign power.
Negm told a TV interviewer late on Wednesday night that the beating left her with a swollen eye, but that was otherwise unhurt. She said the beating took place while scores of policemen and army soldiers assigned to the protection of the TV building stood by and watched.
"I am not the type that runs away. I stood my ground," she told the interviewer on the privately owned ONTV station.
Negm is the daughter of Ahmed Fuad Negm, Egypt’s best known satirical poet and a longtime critic of Mubarak. She was a key figure in the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down last February. Also a newspaper columnist and blogger, she has been sharply critical of the generals who took over from the ousted president.
Negm was questioned by prosecutors this week over her alleged role in deadly clashes last month between troops and protesters in Cairo.
The ruling generals have repeatedly accused some of the activists behind Mubarak’s ouster of illegally receiving foreign funds, and the state media has portrayed them as reckless troublemakers.
The country’s military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, delivered a thinly veiled warning to anti-military activists planning a wave of protests to mark the Jan. 25 anniversary of the start of the uprising.
In comments published on Wednesday, he said Egypt was facing "grave dangers" but assured the nation that the armed forces would protect it. Tantawi was Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years.
The activists charge that the generals have botched the transition to civilian rule, allowed the killing by troops of at least 80 protesters since October, human rights violations and hauling some 12,000 civilians before military tribunals for trial since February.
The military’s longtime image as the nation’s most powerful institution and its protector has been dealt a serious blow when activists posted on social networks images of troops using brutal force against protesters, including a woman whom they stripped half naked and kicked and stomped on her while she lay on the ground. Other images showed troops urinating on protesters from the roof of the parliament building.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter who met with Egyptian leaders in Cairo this month wrote in a report posted on the website of his Atlanta-based NGO that Tantawi had told him during a meeting that the videos were "all falsified" and that soldiers beating the half naked woman were "actually helping the woman re-clothe herself."
Activists are touring cities across the nation to show the public the videos of the troops’ brutality. The campaign is called "Liars," a reference to the military’s repeated denials of responsibility for the killing of protesters.