White House Condemns Rape, Assault of Women at Egypt Protests

At least 18 cases of sexual assault reported by human rights groups on second anniversary of Tahrir Square revolution, according to NY Times; meanwhile, clashes breaking out at latest anti-Morsi demonstrations in Egypt.

The White House on Friday condemned the rape and assault of women at recent demonstrations in Egypt and called on the Cairo government to prevent sexual violence and prosecute those responsible.

The New York Times recently reported that on January 25, the second anniversary of the Tahrir Square revolution in Cairo, at least 18 cases of sexual assaults were reported by human groups.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the United States is deeply concerned at reports of rapes and sexual assaults in public squares in Egypt.

"Sexual violence including gang rape has occurred during recent demonstrations in Egypt. This is a cause of great concern to the United States, the international community and to many Egyptians. These victims are mothers, wives, daughters and sisters of Egypt," he said.

Earnest, speaking on an Air Force One flight that carried President Barack Obama from Washington to an event in Miami, said the Egyptian government has a responsibility to take legal measures to prevent sexual violence and to prosecute people who are involved in such crimes.

"The idea that some Egyptians are blaming the victims for being raped and assaulted is abhorrent. We strongly condemn these views and reaffirm the rights of women to express themselves in public squares alongside men," he said.

Clashes amid anti-Morsi protests

Meanwhile, clashes erupted Friday in two cities in northern Egypt, the latest demonstrations held against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Hundreds of unidentified assailants threw stones and fire bombs at protesters rallying against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood Friday in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Separately, protesters and riot police clashed after demonstrators tried to torch a Muslim Brotherhood office in the Nile Delta city of Zagazig.

The protests are part of a nationwide call to rally against what the protesters claim are unfair actions that Morsi has taken against the opposition.

On Monday, Egypt's prosecutor general issued arrest warrants for five of Egypt's most prominent democracy advocates and activists over allegations that they instigated violence last week near the Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo where nearly 200 people were injured.