al-Sisi’s Egypt: 26 arrests last night, totals now a record 109

Bath Raid, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)
Bath Raid, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)

This article was updated January 4, 2015. The total charged in this matter was 26 people.

With the latest raids, Egypt now holds the dubious record for the country with the largest number of reported arrests for homosexuality in such a short time, in a single country in recent times.

Several sources reported today that the Bab el-Bahr hammam bath house in Cairo was raided by police last night, on December 7th, at about 10 pm local time, resulting in dozens of men, or 40 men, arrested for “perversion.”

J. Lester Feder, BuzzFeed News Foreign Correspondent reported that:

Egyptian police raided a bathhouse in Cairo on Sunday night and arrested a large group of men accused of “perversions,” according to Mona Iraqi, a reporter with the program El Mostakbai of the Al-Qahira wal Nas channel.

Iraqi posted about the raid on her Facebook page along with several pictures of men, mostly naked, who were apparently caught during the roundup…

Morals police found a large group of men “caught in the act during a group sex party,” and they were “immediately transported to the prosecution with no clothes.”

Bath Raid, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)
Bath Raid, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)

Ms. Iraqi announced today on her continuously updated Facebook page that her program, originally scheduled to be broadcast in Egypt on December 10th, coincidentally on International Human Rights Day, will be broadcast tonight, just past Midnight.  It will, apparently: “… reveal the biggest den of perversions in the heart of Cairo.”

It appears certain from the information on Iraqi’s Facebook page that the media was complicit with police in this raid.  She apparently informed the police on December 3rd about the activities at the bath house. She and her team then appear to have accompanied the police and documented the raid with photos, also published on her Facebook page.

Blogger and Human Rights activist Scott Long today provides both a report and a context for the arrests in a much longer article in his blog, A Paper Bird, also published today.  He reports that:

At about 10 PM last night, December 7, police carried out a massive raid on a hammam(bathhouse) in the Ramsis area of Cairo, not far from the main railway station. They arrested many men — dozens, reportedly — and hauled them, stripped naked like concentration-camp inmates, to the trucks. Someone living nearby who watched the assault wrote on social media that “police together with Central Security forces attacked the bath.” (Central Security, Amn el-Merkezi, is an army force mainly composed of raw recruits. it takes over many policing duties in an increasingly militarized Egypt.) “40 people were arrested. Some were beaten up in the baths, and they were all arrested with no clothes.” He said “a female journalist and a cameraman” arrived “before they attacked the baths. She tried to enter and film inside, and she was kicked out by the owner. Immediately this was reported [to the police], and the baths were attacked. People say there were informers from the police inside the baths before that.”

The reporter was Mona Iraqi, presenter for the TV program El Mostakbai (The Hidden), which airs on the pro-government Al-Qahira wal Nas (Cairo and the People) news channel. Around 2:00 this morning, Mona Iraqi posted proudly about the raid on her Facebook page — along with still shots, bearing the El Mostakbai watermark. Two hours later, she took it all down. But I had saved the pictures, and a friend saved screenshots of the post. What she wrote was a promo for coming attractions.

Activists continue to express their support for the homosexual community in Egypt on the Facebook page “Solidarity with Egypt LGBT.”

This raid, with some (edited to) 26 men arrested, appears to be the largest single group arrest since the al-Sisi government took office last year and part of their ongoing morals campaign against homosexuals in Egypt.

Earlier this year, on September 3, police had detained up to 26 people in the “gay wedding” arrests. Last June, we reported on the arrests of 77 people on homosexuality charges in Egypt since October 2013.  And last month, we reported that a teacher and four other men were arrested. On January 2, we reported on the arrest of 2 transsexuals.

All together, at least 109 (Edited) people have been arrested for “perversion” or related charges related to homosexuality in al-Sisi’s Egypt in just over a year. This is without doubt the largest number of reported arrests for homosexuality in such a short time, in a single country in recent times.  An ominous record of persecution for the LGBTI community in Egypt.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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