CAIRO - Thousands of Egyptians rallied on Friday, December 23, in Cairo's Tahrir square against the army's handling of protests that killed 17 people, demanding earlier presidential elections next January.
"Anyone who saw her and saw her pain would come to Tahrir," Omar Adel, 27, told Reuters referring to the image of a woman dragged by army soldiers on the street so that her bra and torso were exposed, while clubbing and stamping on her.
"Those who did this should be tried. We can't bear this humiliation and abuse."
Activists have called for Friday's mass rally, named "Regaining honor and defending the revolution," in Tahrir Square to press for a swifter power transfer to a civilian authority following deadly clashes with army troops, which left 17 people dead.
Students appealed to Egyptians to join Friday's protest with a march from Cairo's Ain Shams university, two of whose students were among the killed.
Demonstrators in Tahrir chanted, "Down with military rule."
Nearby, new concrete walls bar access from Tahrir to the cabinet, parliament and Interior Ministry, areas where clashes flared in November and December.
Some protesters have been demanding the army bring forward a presidential vote to as early as January 25, the first anniversary of the start of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, or at least much earlier than the mid-2012 handover now scheduled.
Others called for handing power to a civilian council that would include Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, who was ejected from the Brotherhood after he defied their decision not to field a presidential candidate.
In the northern city of Alexandria, thousands marched towards an army base chanting: "Women of Egypt raise your heads, you are more noble than those who stamp on you."
Other small rallies to protest the treatment of women were staged in other cities around Egypt, according to witnesses.
Thought the army has said it regretted the violence in Tahrir, the military was drawing fierce criticism from many political parties and groups.
"The current predicament we have reached is a result of the army council's reluctance to play its role, its intentional foot-dragging, breaking its obligations and failing over the economy and security, putting the whole country on the edge of a huge crisis," two dozen parties and groups said in a statement.
It said members of the military council, which is led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, should be held to account out of respect for those killed and women who were mistreated.
"Tantawi undressed our daughters, he should be executed," said Samah Ibrahim, 40, a woman protesting in Tahrir.
Other Egyptians, however, wanted protests to stop so order can be restored and the economy revitalized, voicing such views in a smaller protest in another part of Cairo.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose party is leading Egypt's parliamentary elections, also said it would not join the rally.
It warned that any change in the power handover timetable would wreck havoc in the country.
"The party emphasizes the need for the handover of power to civilians according to the will of the Egyptian people through free and fair elections ... in a stable environment," said Mohamed al-Katatni, a senior member of the FJP.
Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist al-Nour Party, a surprise runner-up in the election so far, said on its Facebook page that it would take part.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net