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Egyptian Police Arrest, Humiliate 'Gay' Men at Cairo Bathhouse

Egyptian Police Arrest, Humiliate 'Gay' Men at Cairo Bathhouse


A late-night raid of a Cairo bathhouse included a humiliating march in the nude to police vans outside.

Egyptian police raided a bathhouse in Cairo Sunday night, parading between 25 and 40 terrified, naked, allegedly gay male patrons outside into waiting vans and arresting them for "perversion" and "debauchery," according to multiple media reports.

The BBC said 33 men were arrested, while ABC News reported there were 25 arrests. Writer and longtime human rights worker Scott Long's blog, A Paper Bird, put the number at 40.

While homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, authorities have frequently used an "antidebauchery" law to persecute and prosecute LGBT Egyptians.

"The bathhouse owner is accused of turning the facility into a site of immoral and indecent conduct and group homosexuality," local head prosecutor, Mohamed Hetta, told Agence France-Presse.

Significantly, Long (a former staffer at Human Rights Watch) reports that a news reporter and camera crew from a state-run media outlet were on-site and ready to film before the the police raid, which began at about 10 p.m. local time.

"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," wrote Long. "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."

Sisi's Antigay Crackdowns: All About the Muslim Brotherhood?

Long alleged that the administration and security forces of President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, who is a former Egyptian military general, and state-run media collaborated in executing the raid. The collusion, Long speculated, is intended to set the stage for purges of internal enemies of the current president, while also promulgating the ongoing war against the deposed Muslim Brotherhood.

In a breathtaking show of propagandist acrobatics, the Sisi regime has tried to link the Muslim Brotherhood to homosexuality, despite the fact that ousted president Mohammed Morsi -- the Brotherhood leader democratically elected in 2012 -- was no friend to LGBT Egyptians.

When Sisi deposed Morsi through a military coup in 2014, the former general's regime banned the Muslim Brotherhood and then went on to win nearly 97 percent of the legal votes cast in the May presidential election, according to Al Jazeera.

"The banned but still militant Brotherhood had accused Sisi's regime of bringing perverted marriage to Egypt; now the regime charges the Brotherhood with passing out pervert sex as a membership bonus," Long wrote.

Absurd Stereotypes Prevail in Egypt

Meanwhile, crackdowns against the LGBT community in and around Cairo -- led in part by General Ali al-Demerdash, Sisi's head of security -- have ramped up in Egypt during the past few months. Some activists on the ground have interpreted the recent crackdown as the Sisi regime's attempt to prove that it is "more Muslim than the Islamists."

Even Grindr, the ubiquitous gay hookup app, had to disable its GPS function in Egypt in September because authorities were using it to entrap gay men.

That same month, Egyptian police hunted down as many as 16 men who allegedly appeared in a viral video that purported to show a same-sex wedding that took place on riverboat on the Nile. Despite "testing negative" for homosexuality and claiming the whole thing was a joke, eight of the accused were sentenced to three years in jail, found guilty of "spreading indecent images and inciting debauchery."

A Paper Bird linked its reportage of the Sunday night's raid to two "exposes" on the "problem" of homosexuality that recently aired at pro-government media outlets. One of the exposes, published by VetoGate, paints pedestrian stereotypes of gay people with broad strokes that would be laughable if they weren't so harmful to LGBT people living in the Mideast region.

Here's an excerpt of that article:

You will find that each and every one has a name different from his original name, by which they call each other. There are nicknames like Oum el Ali, Oum el Farouk, Oum El Susu, Oum el Fadi [nicknames for mothers in Arabic]. ... That helps them forget their masculinity and appear feminine and arouses the instinct that they have. ... They are professionals in practicing prostitution in a wide range, and with very expensive prices that compete with the prices of female sluts.

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Thom Senzee