- Associated Press - Monday, December 19, 2011

CAIRO — Egypt's ruling military sought to discredit the democracy movement Monday, portraying a detained protester as a woman of questionable morals, accusing a prominent publisher of incitement and alleging the media is trying to sabotage the country.

The verbal attacks by a member of the ruling military council came hours after troops in riot gear swept through Cairo’s Tahrir Square before daybreak, opening fire on protesters and lobbing tear gas into the crowd.

At least three people were killed, pushing the death toll from four days of street clashes to 14.

Over the past few days, the military has dealt with the protesters much more roughly than at any other time since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising 10 months ago. The military took power after Mr. Mubarak stepped down.

“The ruling military council doesn’t believe in the revolution,” said newly elected lawmaker and activist Mustafa el-Naggar.

The crackdown may reflect the military’s fury over the activists’ distribution of videos showing soldiers bludgeoning women and other protesters.

The military also may have emboldened by the democracy movement’s weak showing in the parliamentary elections that began last month.

Maj. Gen. Adel Emara, a member of the ruling council, showed videos at a news conference clearly intended to discredit those involved in the protest movement.

One image was designed to raise questions about a female detainee’s morals. It showed the woman talking about her husband, then later saying she was not married to her partner. Sex outside marriage is considered gravely immoral in conservative, mostly Muslim Egypt.

Another video showed a young man in detention saying that prominent publisher Mohammed Hashem was using his Cairo office near Tahrir as headquarters for an “incitement ring,” distributing free food, helmets and gas masks to protesters.

Mr. Hashem is a leftist credited with publishing young novelists and poets whose works have become literary landmarks in Egypt. His Merit publishing house is a gathering place for young, left-leaning intellectuals.

Mr. Hashem told an online news service that he plans to sue the military for defamation and that he is proud to offer protesters protection against tear gas and bullets.

Violence has been raging in Cairo since Friday, when military forces guarding the Cabinet building near Tahrir Square cracked down on a three-week-old sit-in by protesters demanding the ruling generals immediately hand power to a civilian authority.



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