- Middle East/North Africa
Freedom and Justice Party member Azza al-Garf refuted claims Thursday that the Muslim Brotherhood had hired thugs to harass and assault female protesters.
The former member of the dissolved People's Assembly called the accusations "ridiculous and disgusting [and] not consistent with our doctrine," in an interview with German news agency DPA. She then said anyone who would suggest otherwise is "mentally disturbed."
Women's groups claim the increase in sexual violence during protests and clashes over the last few weeks is the work of Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Garf contends her party seeks to protect women's rights.
"The Islamist view of the woman is to respect to her and her status and roles in life, whether it is a professional or humanitarian role or her role within the home and community. How can [the Muslim Brotherhood] be the ones inciting these heinous acts?" asked Garf.
"We support the right of any citizen to express their opinion without violation of the system or any attack on state institutions. Women are Egyptian citizens. Like men, they are entitled to express their opinions."
Garf blamed the recent increase of sexual violence and harassment on opposition parties and protest groups, saying they had failed to ensure the safety of demonstrators.
She said video footage aired by Egyptian media showed that demonstrators had not made "serious attempts … to the rescue the women."
The Freedom and Justice Party member said sexual harassment and violence is virtually non-existent at gatherings sanctioned by Islamist groups.
"During the days of the revolution, there were individuals responsible for security at the entrances and exits of Tahrir Square," she said. "No one was allowed to enter without showing their identity for verification and sometimes they got searched ... That also happens in the demonstrations called for by Islamist [organizations]."
Edited translation from DPA