The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Carter: Tantawi in denial over "girl in the blue bra"

One of the interesting tidbits in Jimmy Carter's report on Egypt from his recent trip (which I blogged about here) is a revelation that the generals on SCAF tried to convince him that soldiers had been trying to help the now icononoc "girl in the blue bra." I had heard about this last week from people at the meeting, but off the record. As it's now in the report and has been picked up in the Egyptian press, here's a highlight:

I was received with a friendly welcome as I congratulated the military leaders for what seemed to be a successful election, and then asked a number of questions. It seemed that the SCAF had full confidence that there would be accommodation to their demands by the Muslim Brotherhood and their coalition partners as the new government is formed. Instead of the reported 12,000 mostly political prisoners being held for trials in military courts, the Field Marshal stated that there were no more than 3,000, all of whom were guilty of criminal acts and being tried in civilian courts. He stated that the widely promulgated videos showing military attacks on demonstrators and a woman "with the blue brassiere" were all falsified. He said the soldiers were actually helping the woman re-clothe herself with what was provocative attire. I was assured that the emergency law would be lifted before the presidential election, no later than June.

Tantawi and the other generals actually went on at length over how the video had been doctored and that the soldier was actually trying to cover her up and help her, and that the widely viewed video on YouTube was basically a plot against them. They also suggested that the woman was dressed inappropriately under her cloak. You can tell exactly what happened – that she was beaten and stomped upon by the soldiers – in the video. The generals either lied to their teeth, or more probably and more worryingly, actually believe the crap they spew. The real question is, who is feeding them that line?