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Egyptian Reporter Mona Iraqi And Her Channel Owner To Face Criminal Charges Over Gay Bathhouse Raid

Mona Iraqi

Mona Iraqi, the Egyptian "reporter" whose sting on an Egyptian bathhouse late last year resulted in 26 arrests on charges of debauchery, all of which were dismissed, will be facing charges of defamation alongside channel owner Tarek Nour. Additional charges include libel and publishing false news.

EgyptThe case is being brought by Tarek Al-Awadi, who served as the lawyer for the defendants in the bathhouse case. Al-Awadi is bringing this case to court because Iraqi and channel Al-Qahera Wal-Nas, which hosts her show, refused to apologize or admit to any wrongdoing. Said Al-Awadi to Daily News Egypt:

In case that private satellite station Al-Qahera Wal-Nas (Cairo and the People) will not publish an official statement apologising for the actions of its employees, we will continue to escalate. The channel should take serious legal procedure against Iraqi, her team, and the programme director.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled for April 5th.


Egyptian Gay Bathhouse Raid Victim Attempts Suicide Via Immolation

Egypt

The self-righteous actions of conservative moral crusaders never fail to leave a swath of destruction in their wake. Last December we told you about the raid on an Egyptian bathhouse, lead by conservative moral crusader and all around awful human being Mona Iraqi. Despite the raid probably being illegal, despite the allegations that vice squad leader of the raid Lt. Col. Ahmed Hashad fabricated his testimony, despite the fact that all of the men arrested were acquitted, the social fallout has prompted one of the victims to attempt suicide via self-immolation.

The victim had an interview with the newspaper El-Watan:

I work in a restaurant in the Shobra district. I’m harassed constantly in my workplace by the words of the people and the looks in their eyes.

He also told them that his family locked down on his movements, tried to keep him at home, and one of his brothers insisted on following him everywhere he goes.

About ten days ago, Iraqi returned to television, doubling down on her hate, accusing her detractors of being foreign agents and insisting her raid was about sex trafficking and preventing the spread of AIDS. Hashad, whose lies helped acquit the accused, appeared on the show with her and also doubled down, saying that he had engaged in an extended surveillance of the bathhouse. Two days after the broadcast, the victim attempted suicide.

Paper Bird points out that self-immolations carry particular significance in Egypt as the Arab Spring revolution was instigated by Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi setting fire to himself to protest the governmental bureaucracies that destroyed his livelihood. 


Egyptian Appeals Court Dismisses Case Against Men in Gay Bathhouse Raid

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Buzzfeed reports an Egyptian appeals court has dismissed the case against the 26 Egyptian men, charged with debauchery in December's bathhouse raid. Though a lower court has already acquitted the men, this decision marks the final legal decision on the case.

According to Mohamed Abo Zakry, a lawyer with the Egyptian Center for Civil Reform who represented seven of the now-acquitted men, this verdict means the men have been found "totally innocent and the case is totally closed."

As mentioned in previous posts, the men intend to take legal action against TV reporter Mona Iraqi, who has been accused of filming the bathhouse interior illegally. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Zakry says the acquitted men "would immediately begin prepare to file suit against Iraqi and her television station."

They will also file a claim with the office that investigates police misconduct, alleging that the officer who lead the raid (Lt. Col. Ahmed Hashad) fabricated testimony.

Despite this positive development for gay rights in Egypt, there remains concern that the government is engendering anti-gay bias in the media.


Egyptian Government Encouraging Media To Boost Anti-Gay Coverage

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Gay issues in Egypt have been cropping up a fair bit lately, with the country itself devoting a large amount of its news coverage to explicitly reporting the anti-gay angle. According to Ibrahim Monsour, editor-in-chief of a leading Egyptian liberal newspaper, the Tahrir News, the reason for this coverage is that it's a mandate from the Egyptian government itself.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Monsour says, “These are instructions from the state apparatus” to cover sex scandals and other “silly” issues. The motivation is likely much like the case in Russia: the focus on "morality" cases and whipping up a frenzy over an individual group in order to distract the populace from the failings of the government itself. In the case of Egypt, the government hopes to distract the betrayal of the hopes of the revolution that toppled President Mubarak in 2011.

The media is complicit in all of this because, just like with the U.S. media, it's all about what sells. Unfortunately for them, the case with the bathhouse raid and Mona Iraqi's slanderous report is showing that the public is only going to be pushed so far, with a family member of one of the acquitted men saying,

If I have to sell the furniture in my house to bring a case [against Iraqi] to send her to jail, I will not let her rest until the end of her life.

Mona Iraqi


Egypt Court Acquits 26 Men Charged With 'Debauchery' in Gay Bathhouse Raid

Egypt

An Egyptian court has acquitted the 26 men arrested in the televised raid on a Cairo bathhouse early last month, the Associated Press reports:

The men in the bathhouse raid faced various charges, including debauchery and performing indecent public acts. Monday’s verdict came after only three hearings, during which families quarreled with journalists who tried to photograph their relatives in the dock.

The courtroom erupted into a frenzy after the word “acquittal” was heard from the judge and women ululated. Scott Long, an American researcher who had followed the case said he was both “shocked and delighted.”

“I hope this is a sign that these raids will come to an end,” Long told the Associated Press amid the cheering. “Finally there was a judge who listened to the evidence.”

Rights activists say 2014 was the worst year in a decade for Egypt’s gay community, with at least 150 men arrested or put on trial.

“They destroyed our lives. God rescued us,” said one of the defendants, who didn’t give his name.

Following the acquittal, defense lawyer Tarek el-Awady said he would file charges against the officer who led the raid, Lt. Col. Ahmed Hashad for fabricating testimony and would also bring charges against reporter Mona Iraqi. Iraqi has been accused by activist groups of breaking various laws in her filming of the bathhouse raid.

IraqiBuzzfeed reports:

“We will not leave Mona Iraqi,” said a relative of one of the accused who gave his name as Mahmoud. “We will take her to court. We will not leave Ahmed Hashad. If I have to sell the furniture in my house to take a case to take her to jail, I will not let her rest until the end of her life.”

One of the pieces of evidence seized upon by defense lawyers was the anal exams performed by police medical experts after their arrest. Egyptian authorities maintain testing the tightness of the anal sphincter can establish whether or not a man is gay, though many international medical experts say the exams are unreliable and human rights groups have denounced them as a violation of basic human rights.

But instead of reporting many of them had been penetrated – as Hashad claims to have seen with his own eyes – the examiners reported only three had “wounds” in the anus. Defense attorney Mohamed Zaki told BuzzFeed News that in these cases the examiners reported scratches or tears, which could be evidence of trauma that actually occurred after the men were in police custody.

One of the three men also told lawyers he had been raped while in police custody, claiming police had presented him to other prisoners using an Egyptian expression that roughly corresponds to "here's a hot piece of ass". The man refused to allow his lawyers to use his claim to contest charges, however, due to the social taboos surrounding penetration.

“How can he stand in the court and say he has been penetrated?” said defense lawyer Mohamed Zaki. “Even if we can prove that he was raped inside the police station, this will never clear his reputation … once you have been penetrated, you are not considered a man.”


NYT Criticizes Obama Administration, Lawmakers Amidst Egyptian Persecution of Gays

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As we reported yesterday, the trial of the 26 men arrested last month in a raid of a gay bathhouse in Cairo is now underway and already proving both ludicrous and tragic. In an Op-Ed piece published today, The New York Times criticized the Obama administration and congressional leaders for continuing to provide financial assistance to Egypt amidst the country's "crackdown" on gays and for failing to condemn the country's egregious actions:

Egypt’s treatment of gays is part of a dismal human rights record that has only gotten worse in recent months. The Obama administration and American lawmakers have not done enough to denounce the abuses of an increasingly authoritarian Egyptian government, which is one of the largest recipients of American military aid. As Congress convenes this week, influential lawmakers should take a fresh look at the plight of vulnerable Egyptians and speak out on their behalf. Among them are Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican who has fought efforts to pare back Egypt’s military package, and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The 26 men on trial now may never be able to shed the stigma this prosecution has inflicted on them, their careers and their families. But strong international condemnation may keep authorities in Egypt from victimizing more men.

in 2014, the U.S. gave $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, "with the majority of it going to the country’s military," according to The Washington Blade

The raid on the Cairo bathhouse was documented and orchestrated by journalist Mona Iraqi who aimed to expose "the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo." While Egyptian law does not strictly ban homosexuality it does criminalize debauchery and perversion, both of which being charges that have been leveled against the 26 men who were arrested on December 7th. 


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