A small but ardent group of Egyptian men and women protested Thursday against what they saw as their government's indifference to an alleged sexual assault of women in the city center last month.
About 100 protesters stood outside the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo, chanting slogans against President Hosni Mubarak and the police force. An equal number of riot police, wearing helmets and carrying batons, faced the demonstrators but made no attempt to disperse the nearly two-hour protest.
"Every day there is sexual harassment, but there is no violence," said demonstrator Manal Hassan. "This is different."
Hassan, a political blogger, and her fellow demonstrators were outraged by the alleged harassment of women who were walking through a busy shopping district of Cairo on the nights of Oct. 23 and 24.
Gangs of hooligans set upon the women, groping them and tearing their clothes, witnesses have reported on Internet sites. Some of the women wore head scarves - a sign of the Islamic faith that usually commands respect. Police were on hand but did nothing to stop the hooligans, the witnesses alleged.