Egyptian woman shot dead by police on eve of anniversary

An Egyptian woman who was part of a secular protest for greater democracy, justice and accountability was shot dead in Talaat Harb by police as she marched with others towards Tahrir Square yesterday.

Canadians stand with Egyptians in the struggle to realize the goals of the revolution –

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Bathhouse Trial Date Set For 4 January – Egyptian Law Student Starts Facebook Campaign

A Court has set a date of 4 January for the resumption of the hearings on 26 men currently held on remand pending investigations in to as yet unspecified charges relating to their arrest in a raid on the bab el bahr bathhouse on 7 December. All the defendants were refused bail.

The majority of the men were forced to undergo medical tests. One claimed that he and other defendants had been beaten by the police and forced to sleep on their stomachs. In previous instances of the arrest of men suspected of homosexuality, human rights organizations have found extensive evidence of the use of torture against gay men.

This afternoon at around 1.40 pm, 26 prisoners were herded into the court room, heads bowed in desperation to hide their identities and all of them chained in a line. According to witness Scott Long – “The bailiff at the door beat them as they entered” (
before they were pushed into a metal cage.

Forensic department spokesman Hisham Abdel Hamid said that 21 of the men had undergone forced medical examinations to determine if they had been sexually penetrated. The results, he claimed, showed that three had been the victims of recent non consensual sexual assault. There was no suggestion as to who the alleged culprits were.

The other men did not show signs of sexual penetration but the spokesman argued that this in itself did not prove they were not homosexuals.

The extensive use of such “medical examinations” in Egypt has long been condemned by human rights activists. In fact forced tests as evidence of a person’s sexuality have long since been rejected by police authorities around the civilized world not just because they would be illegal, unprofessional and unethical but also because even if not, they wouldn’t constitute scientifically valid evidence.


A protest on Facebook has been launched against the collaboration of Egyptian TV journalist Mona Iraqi with police authorities on the raid on the bathhouse. Cairo law student Ramy Youssef has bravely started a page to promote “tweeting and blogging against informer journalists and homophobia.”

“Contributions will be made through all social media to protest Mona Iraqi’s unethical cooperation with oppressive police forces, which led to the largest crackdown on people based on their assumed sexual orientations in recent Egyptian history. Not only did she lead the police in arresting 26 people — men kept naked while she filmed them using her camera phone like a bounty hunter – she covered her tracks with a media campaign spreading the idea that this is about HIV and prostitution. We protest the real perversion practiced by Mona Iraqi and her like. We protest the journalists who become informers rather than neutral transmitters of fact. We protest the state brutality and extreme injustice against people suspected of being gay or transgender in Egypt.”

He has quickly won the support of the distinguished Canadian filmmaker Professor John Greyson who wrote –

“We all need to speak out with equal outrage……. speak out in particular as journalists and filmmakers who can’t stomach Mona’s abuse of her position; speak out in particular on behalf of all those who are unable to, living as they do under the thumb of a thuggish Egyptian police state; speak out for immediate justice for the…. men who are right now languishing in a Cairo prison.”

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The Witch Hunt Returns.


A TV presenter working for Egyptian pro-government TV program Al-Qahira wal Nas (Cairo and the people)  appears to have initiated a police raid on a bath house leading to the arrest and public shaming of dozens of men who now stand accused of engaging in homosexual acts.


One witness put the number arrested at around forty while an official informed a Reuters correspondent that twenty six men were being held in detention and General Ali al-Demerdash, head of the Cairo security directorate, told AFP that thirty three men had been detained.  

Whether the original witness overestimated their number or whether some men have been “disappeared” is not clear. What is almost certain is that they all  face the prospect of forced medical examinations and beatings in custody followed by lengthy prison sentences from which they will be lucky to survive.



The raid took place at 10pm on Sunday in the Ramses District of Downtown Cairo. Iraqi was present alongside police and leather jacketed State Security officials as around twenty six or more gay men were rounded up and led to police trucks.

The photos appear to show that the arrests took place at hammam bab el bahr which is just a short walk from Ramses Square and dates back to the Ottoman period. Quite how the police were able to see what was happening through all the vapor and steam is an interesting question, but one that state appointed lawyers are unlikely to ask.

Neither are they likely to point out that in a recent academic article the authors were seemingly surprised to discover that at bab el bahr the management encouraged modesty by handing out pairs of shorts along with the towels (HBRC jounral “Survival of the Mediterranean Hammam in Contemporary Societies”).

Nevertheless TV presenter Mona Iraqi published photos on her Facebook page of the hammam’s customers claiming she was filming a program to highlight the dangers of  HIV and called the bathhouse “a den for spreading AIDS in Egypt” saying that those detained had been taken to the prosecution without any clothes “since these were needed as evidence.”

Some photos however indicated that the men might have been allowed to wear their underwear as they were herded into police vans. However even this would have been a shameful humiliation on a bitterly cold winter’s night in Cairo. And if they were taken semi naked to police cells directly, as is likely, they would have met a very hostile reception from other inmates.



It’s unlikely that Iraqi was the author of this witch hunt.  A decision for such a highly publicized event would have had to have obtained very high clearance from the Ministry of Interior and possibly even from the office of the president.

The government has to meet head on any criticism that they are less conservative on social issues than the Muslim Brotherhood and at the same time the publicity afforded to any trial will help to focus media attention away from the government’s failure to tackle poverty, inequality and corruption.

The police have been aware for years of what was going on in Cairo’s few remaining bathhouses but until October 2013 they choose to look away. That month there was a police raid on a bathhouse in Marg, a poor neighbourhood in north east Cairo, during which 14 men were arrested. However this latest round up is considerably larger and the first ever to be accompanied by a television journalist.

It is ironic that Iraqi claimed she had instigated the raid in order to bring about greater awareness of HIV and AIDS.   What is now certain is that the gay community will be driven underground.



Please post what you feel on her Facebook page.  Don’t forget to log into Facebook first.


Hossam Bahgat, founder and director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, has already risked local public outrage, by bravely criticizing Mona Iraqi’s action on her Facebook page.   He needs the support of Egyptians and people worldwide. And more to the point the thirty three men arrested need your support.

Fortunately there is already a torrent of condemnation online for Iraqi’s gutter journalism with Peter Rullez commenting on her Facebook page – “This photo [of Iraqi filming the men entering the police van] will haunt you your entire life. May you be happy and proud as you photograph inside a men’s bathhouse and ruin men’s reputations for a scoop” Let’s make that torrent a tidal wave !

Meanwhile in Britain Labour politician and lgbt activist Michael Cashman CBE tweeted for people to contact the Egyptian Embassy in London to complain (tel 020 7235 9777 daily 9am to 3pm ).



What a shame on Egypt ! What happened to the revolution when Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Suez and Alexandria inspired the world ?   The very first slogan of 25 January called for  “freedom and human dignity” but these arrests prove the current regime no longer cares. And why should they when the Western governments and corporations continue to back them.

Sisi’s government has turned the clock back to the age of Mubarak and to the time of the Queen Boat arrests in 2001 when 52 gay men were detained during a raid on a floating discotheque on the Nile.

These latest arrests follow several other high profile raids including the detention two months ago of seven Egyptians accused of debauchery after a video was posted online showing a marriage between two men on a Nile riverboat.


Please also make your views clear below Monica Iraq’s homophobic program on Youtube.
Click the Youtube button to navigate to the Youtube page to leave comments.

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Harshest Ever Sentences For Gay Sex In Egypt.

Men charged with alleged "gay crimes" in 2001.

Detainees during Egypt’s infamous Queen Boat case in 2001.

An Egyptian court has sentenced four men convicted of the “crime” of gay sex to a total of twenty eight years in prison, three of them receiving an eight year term and one a three year term.

To my knowledge eight years is the longest ever stretch of prison time handed down for consensual sexual acts in Egypt’s modern history and surpasses any of the sentences handed down in the notorious Queen Boat case of 2001 which brought Egypt international condemnation from across the globe including strong criticism from the then French president Jacques Chirac as well as from singer and songwriter Elton John.

The accused, like the female protesters dragged off to the Egyptian Museum by the military police in March 2011 and like the Queen boat detainees arrested under the Mubarak regime in May 2001, were forced to undergo humiliating medical tests.  In this case to “prove” (using long discredited medical techniques) that they were “habitual gays”.

The news in depressing. In the last ten years much of the world has progressed to legally  accepting gay lifestyles as having a complete equality to a heterosexual one.  But Egypt, despite recently toppling the Islamist Morsi regime, seems to have taken the opposite direction.

And the headline punishment says nothing about the real consequences for these men. Let’s not forget that they will be lucky to survive their sentences. If the treatment of gay men previously arrested is anything to go by then they will receive the most degrading and brutal abuse conceivable at the hands of prison guards and other prisoners.  Can you imagine how they will manage inside ?

Their cell mates will be drug dealers, hardened criminals, religious zealots (either Muslim or Christian) with whom they will also have to share the crowded sweltering prison vans. When the guards say “Here are prisoners who are the cause of all Egypt’s problems – khawalaat, perverts, mitnakeen” will the prison authorities care in the slightest what happens to them ?

We cannot allow their lives to be abused and lost so cheaply.

Egypt should remember that many of the tourists who visit Egypt – and on whom one in seven of the country’s jobs depends – are either lesbian, gay or have close friends who are or they will be at least sympathetic to the idea of treating the lgbt community with respect and dignity. Many will surely think twice about continuing to holiday in a country which imposes such draconian and inhumane punishments for what men chose to do in the privacy of their own homes. recently reluctantly decided to deactivate its’ message forums in light of the recent spate of arrests in Marg and Nasr City and the consequent risk to online posters from Egypt’s infamous internet police.

This is not a promising start to Egypt’s new regime. These sentences are symptomatic of a weak and cowardly government and judiciary that lacks any sense of moral direction or principle. Instead the new “secular” government is nothing more than a front to facilitate Sisi’s procession to the presidency. The thinking behind these prosecutions being presumably that Sisi needs to prove that in the new Egypt people need not be afraid of having “Western freedoms” forced on them.


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Four Men Arrested in Nasr City Accused of Participating In Gay Parties.

Four men have been arrested and charged with allegedly being involved in gay sex parties inside a flat in the Medinat Nasr district of Cairo.

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Do watch the handsome Ahmed Hassan in “The Square”.

It’s very sad that the only Egyptian film ever to win an Oscar nomination can’t be watched at any cinema inside Egypt.  The Square is a fascinating newly released documentary looking at the events of two years of Egypt’s uprisings as seen through several young activists based in and around Tahrir Square. Of course it does simplify complex issues and of course it misses important events too, but despite all that it’s unmissable in my view. An emotive and evocative film, at times inspirational and at others depressing.

It’s easy to criticize any attempt to condense over two years of the most momentous events in Egypt’s history into just 100 minutes but the result was far better than I expected.  I’m not sure whether this Youtube copy is done with or without permission but if for any reason it’s taken off line  you can also watch it free on Netflix with a month’s trial subscription.

Oh, and regarding Ahmed Hassan – the mention of his name on this site is not intended to suggest anything about his sexuality.  I’ve really no idea nor do I care.    He captivates even more by his eloquent and powerful words than he does by his looks.   Two relatively unimportant things you might never learn from the film however are that he can speak English reasonably and he doesn’t always dress smart casual as you can see from this not so flattering photograph of him I discovered on Flickr.

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The Witch Hunt Returns – Marg Sauna Arrests.


This photo taken in 2001 of some of those arrested in the Queen Boat case arriving for court and trying to hide their faces.

On Saturday charges were brought against fourteen “suspects” into allegations that they engaged in homosexual acts. They were arrested at what media outlets described as a “medical centre” in Marg, a poor overcrowded neighbourhood in North East Cairo.

However the place might be better described as a small hammam complex situated in a narrow cul de sac – around  a fifteen minute walk west from the metro.  From memory and a quick look at Google Earth I think it’s possible that it lies just off Al Khulafa Al Rashideen street.

It was not usually very busy, with a few lockers, a small changing room and just one small traditional hammam area as well as a small shower and a couple of rest areas. The price for entry was modest – just a few Egyptian pounds.

As you would expect, there was no obvious outward indication that it was designed for gay men to meet each other – nothing mentioned on the internet and not even a discrete rainbow flag anywhere.

On the occasions I visited, some while ago, there was never any sign of any sexual activity on site although it was obviously “gay friendly” and it was easy to meet people there.

It was also regarded very much as a home for many regular gay customers who could find few places elsewhere in Cairo where they could be themselves and laugh and joke together. Presumably the police have known about the location for years but had opted for tolerance over repression – even under the Islamist Morsi regime.

But years of tolerance have now come to a sudden end. The authorities are charging the Marg fourteen with “homosexual acts” and some media reports are suggesting these took place within the centre although it’s not entirely clear whether they are alleged to have taken place inside the complex or elsewhere.

The entrance to the establishment is small and the hammam and rest areas are accessed after a corridor so it would have been difficult for a raid to have caught anyone in the act even assuming sexual activities were taking place on site – more likely the charges have just been invented.

This is possibly the reason that those detained, who vary in age between eighteen and fifty seven, now face the horror of forced “medical” examinations in order to “prove” that such acts took place.

Authorities have ordered the closure of the centre and those arrested will be detained for four days prior to their next hearings before a magistrate.  A quantity of drugs and “sexual stimulants” were allegedly found on site.

Life for the gay community in Egypt has never been easy – with most gays living in constant fear of discovery by relatives or employees – however in the last ten years there hasn’t been a high profile case of mass arrests until now.

The charges may turn out to be the largest such case since those against 52 men for alleged homosexual acts after the 2001 Queen Boat raid.

One can clearly see the motive for these arrests. The Government is yet again attempting to distract people from focusing on the real and serious issues facing the country and instead blame anyone, except itself, for Egypt’s current economic and political crisis.

It’s interesting but also depressing that the recent raid did not take place under Morsi’s Islamist presidency, but under the stewardship of the avowedly more secular minded military. However the generals are keen to stamp a fascist uniformity on society with absolutely no tolerance for “sexual deviants” who they would see as undermining Egyptian manhood.

The government may also wish to prove that it has not forgotten “Islamic values” in the hope that it might yet win over the support of Islamist groups and voters, not otherwise aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

It must be a terrifying time for those arrested. God knows what threats of exposure they are facing and who can imagine what types of humiliating torture they may have to endure while they remain in custody.

How will Western governments and human rights organizations inside and outside Egypt react to this if the charges are pressed and the men convicted and sentenced ?   We can only hope that Egyptian human rights activists as well as those outside Egypt, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, will take up this case strongly.


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