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Egyptian TV Presenter Defends Her Role In Bathhouse Raid, Arrests


'We lead the morality police to storm the biggest den for male group sex in the heart of Cairo'

Mona Iraqi, a television host on Egyptian TV channel Alqahira wal Nas, has taken to Facebook to defend her involvement in yesterday's police raid on a Cairo bathhouse that resulted in the arrest of 26 men on indecency charges.

For her undercover TV show, Al-Mostakhbai, Iraqi entered the bathhouse with both a cellphone camera and a cameraman and filmed the men unclothed and half-naked as they were being escorted to jail.

According to The Guardian, Iraqi and her colleagues have claimed that they led the police to the bathhouse on the unsubstantiated suspicion that its patrons were a potential source of AIDS.

"Watch the bold Mona Iraqi reveal in a series of investigative episodes the secret behind the spreading of Aids in Egypt," stated a trailer for their show, which bills the program as both an investigative journalistic scoop and a tie-in with World Aids Day. "For the first time in the history of Egyptian and Arabic media, we lead the morality police to storm the biggest den for male group sex in the heart of Cairo."

According to Reuters, this was the largest crackdown on gay men in Egypt since 2001's raid on a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat. 52 men were tried in that case. Though homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, it is socially taboo and very much discriminated against. Gay men, when arrested for being gay, have been historically charged with indecency, immorality, debauchery, or blasphemy.

Iraqi has defended the segment, which will air December 10, and even posted photos of the raid on her Facebook page. These have now been taken down, but one showed her filming the men on her smartphone. These were accompanied by a since deleted blog post, explaining that her crew had "managed to make a filmed investigation to prove incidents of group perversion and record the confessions of the owners of this den."


The Egypt Independent reports that nearby residents say they saw a female journalist, presumably Iraqi, try to enter the bathhouse with a cameraman, but was thrown out by the owner. The woman allegedly reported the incident to the police and so the raid ensued.

This raid is the latest in a year-long crackdown on homosexuality in Egypt. In November, 8 men were arrested and jailed for taking part in a "marriage" ceremony on the Nile. They received three-year convictions. There has also been an uptick in raids on private property and street arrests targeting Egypt's LGBT community. Activists speculate that this is due to the government's desire to appear as socially conservative as the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in July 2013.


According to the Egypt Independent, there was a similar raid in October 2013 in the poor neighborhood of al-Marg, north-east of Cairo: 14 men were seized after being "caught in the act of homosexuality."

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Alex Panisch