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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 26, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 52
Arab LGBT groups condemn Egypt bathhouse raid
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Arab LGBT groups condemn Egypt bathhouse raid

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A number of LGBT organizations in North Africa and the Middle East have issued a joint statement condemning the December 7 police raid on a Gay bathhouse in Cairo. Egyptian police arrested either 26 or 33 men in the raid, according to local sources.

In a statement carried in Western news sources on December 20, the LGBT groups condemned both the police and journalist Mona Iraqi, who, they charge, led police to the bathhouse in order to film the arrest for her TV show 'Al Mistakhabi' (The Concealed).

'Mona Iraqi took the media frenzy to a new level as she transformed the job of a presenter to that of an informant, working for the police, reporting to them what she thinks is a crime,' the statement said.

'Those who were arrested did not commit any crime punishable by law,' the groups added. Same-sex relations are not illegal in Egypt, but police often use laws against public indecency to harass Gay people.

LGBT activists have documented the arrests of more than 150 Gay or Transgender individuals in Egypt since June 30, 2013.

'In some cases prison sentences of eight or nine years have been imposed, on legal grounds that are incorrect or fabricated,' the groups charged. In September, seven Egyptian men were arrested and charged with 'debauchery' after they appeared in a video of a Gay wedding.

In addition to condemning the Egyptian government, the groups also demanded that the reporter, Mona Iraqi, be prosecuted for distributing photos of the arrestees and publicly labeling them as Gay.

'She has dishonored the profession of journalism,' the groups charged.

'We affirm that it is she who has violated the law and not the men who were arrested....We demand that Mona Iraqi be held legally responsible for abusing her profession to violate these men's privacy, commit libel and pursue her career without considering the consequences of her actions.'

The statement was originally published in Arabic on the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality website. That group is based in Beirut, Lebanon.

It was signed by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD) in Tunisia, the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), and the Lebanese LGBT rights group Helem.

Meanwhile, Iraqi said in an interview that her report on the bathhouse raid was to expose 'the secret behind the spreading of AIDS in Egypt.'

The Egyptian AIDS Society (EAS) said they will file a lawsuit against Iraqi for misusing an interview she did with the group. EAS said it was contacted by the TV station where Iraqi works to take part in a special episode on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

'We agreed and the society's director gave an interview answering several questions related to [HIV/AIDS] awareness,' the group told Al Arabiya news service.

EAS later found out Iraqi's interview was used for what they called 'unethical purposes,' and was aired together with videos of the raid and other interviews that 'are totally against the society's codes.'

'We did not know about the details that were later inserted and the channel manipulated the interview,' the group said.

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