CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt said Wednesday it would not accept any interference in its internal affairs, following criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the way security forces dealt with women protesters.
In a speech Monday, Clinton criticized the actions of Egyptian security forces as showing "systematic degradation" of women that "disgraces the state," some of the strongest U.S. language used against Egypt's new rulers.
Footage showed Egyptian soldiers beating protesters with batons, often after they had fallen to the ground, in what activists described as a forcible attempt to clear a sit-in demanding a swifter transfer to civilian rule. Five days of clashes since Friday left at least 13 dead and hundreds wounded.
"Egypt does not accept any interference in its internal affairs," the state news agency quoted Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr as saying.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr Rushdi told Reuters Egypt held frequent talks with other countries about its transition from military to civilian rule, "to clarify the reality on the ground and the obstacles facing the country during this transitional phase."
A video of Egyptian soldiers dragging a woman protester on the ground by her black full-body veil, exposing her bra, then clubbing and kicking her, has sparked outrage. Thousands marched on Tahrir Square Tuesday to condemn the attacks.
Activists have called for a major protest Friday to demand an apology for the attacks on women.
The United States, which saw deposed leader Hosni Mubarak as a staunch ally, gives Cairo $1.3 billion a year in military aid, a commitment that began after Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.
(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)