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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Egypt anger over 'grope attacks'
Protesting women in Cairo
Protesters want senior government figures to admit responsibility
Hundreds of Egyptians have staged an angry protest against the alleged sexual harassment of female activists and reporters by government supporters.

A number of women say they were assaulted by loyalists from the party of President Hosni Mubarak during voting on a referendum last week.

Dressed in black and wearing white ribbons, the women called for senior officials to resign in shame.

Egypt's government has blamed the assaults on "emotional tension".

But the crowds outside Egypt's Press Syndicate building were resolute, calling for the resignation of senior government officials, including interior minister Habib al-Adli.

"Violating the dignity of women is like violating that of our country," one banner read.

'Battlefield of shame'

Anger has grown after opposition activists and female journalists were groped and physically assaulted during protests against a referendum designed to approve multi-candidate presidential elections later this year.

Opponents of Mr Mubarak say the referendum was flawed and say the measures will not bring about real democratic change.

A female protester is arrested by plainclothes police on polling day
Woman were seen being groped and assualted on referendum day
Clashes broke out on polling day and a number of women have since complained to police about incidents of groping, harassment and assault by men suspected of being government supporters.

Police and security forces reportedly stood around as plain clothed men attacked the women, some shouting orders during the assaults.

"They didn't do anything to stop it. They pushed the guys around the women, they tore their clothes apart, they were completely naked in the streets," one woman at Wednesday's demonstration told the BBC.

Galal Aref, head of Egypt's journalists' organisation, the Press Syndicate, said the assaults were a "black day" for Egypt.

"We're determined to take to justice all those that participated in this crime," she added.

In an official statement sent to Mr Mubarak, a coalition of Arab and Egyptian human rights organisations called on the president to investigate the assaults and punish those responsible for what they described as a "battlefield of shame".


SEE ALSO:
Egypt 'backed protester beatings'
27 May 05 |  Middle East
Egyptians back election changes
26 May 05 |  Middle East
Clashes tarnish Egypt referendum
26 May 05 |  Middle East
Egypt arrests 15 on eve of poll
24 May 05 |  Middle East
Egypt parties oppose election law
17 May 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Egypt
15 Jan 05 |  Country profiles


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