The video of “blue bra girl” getting beaten and stomped by marauding Egyptian soldiers in Cairo has gone around the Internet and given yet another face to the battle between freedom and repression.
She was one of several men and women being beaten by military thugs bearing long sticks. But soldiers seemed to take special delight in brutalizing her. They ripped apart her Islamic garb, exposing her bare midriff and blue bra, and then one soldier took aim and delivered a hard kick to her left breast.
I have watched the video several times, trying to comprehend how one of Earth’s most ancient civilizations could have fallen to such behavior. Not that I should feel surprised or superior, thanks to the Oakland policeman wielding pepper spray.
I have noticed several things:
First, the blue of her bra was similar to the blue often used for Mary the Mother of Jesus. As my preacher said after Time magazine named a veiled Middle Eastern woman protester as “person of the year,” we probably should think of Mary as a protester. Mary’s “Yes” to God echoed in the courage it took for a woman to raise her voice in a patriarchal culture.
Second, I noticed how carefully the soldier executed his stomping of “blue bra girl’s” breast. He set it up, like a football kicker preparing a field goal. He wasn’t trying to subdue her. She seemed to be unconscious already. He was systematically desecrating her. What lifetime of rage was at work in him?
Third, I noticed that when the soldiers moved on to other victims, one stayed behind to cover her face and chest, perhaps to spare her further rituals of shame.
The next day thousands of Egyptian women said their “Yes” to freedom and stormed into Tahrir Square, daring soldiers to strip and beat them, too.
Perhaps this will be the common ground where Christian and Muslim meet, maybe Jew, as well. Not in doctrine or dueling prophets or histories kept needlessly alive, but in women and men shouting for freedom and risking everything to attain it.
Here’s a link to the “blue bra girl” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnFVYewkWEY&skipcontrinter=1.