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” (Paper-Bird.net)
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.
FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN PROTEST
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.”