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Swiss Film Fest Fires Egyptian Journalist for Role in Bathhouse Raid

Swiss Film Fest Fires Egyptian Journalist for Role in Bathhouse Raid


Journalist Mona Iraqi is accused of setting up a raid on a gay bathhouse in Cairo that has 26 men now facing prison sentences.

Organizers of the Swiss Film Festival, Shnit, which is held in Bern each year, have terminated the contract of Egyptian television reporter Mona Iraqi over her involvement in a police raid on a bathhouse on earlier this month, reports Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram.

According to the online, English-language edition of the 139-year-old newspaper, the Swiss organizers reversed their earlier decision to stand by Iraqi even as international pressure against her among fellow journalists and human rights activists mounted. At issue is the allegation that Iraqi arranged for the raid on December 7 to occur by promising to broadcast it on national television.

Iraqi had said she only wanted to report on the raid to expose sex trafficking and the spread of HIV. But al-Ahram notes that Iraqi, in a post on her Facebook page, said her television news "program was able to break up a place for perversion between men and to catch them flagrantly in the act. ... My God, the result is beautiful."

All of that appears to have contributed to the film festival's decision to cut ties. "[Shnit] completely distances from and condemn[s] the practices -- professional and ethical -- employed by Mona Iraqi as a TV reporter in the events of December 7th in Cairo. These practices are at utter odds with the principles," read a statement from the festival's organizers.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen men who were arrested along with the bathhouse owner in Cairo appeared in court Sunday. Many hid their faces, wept, and implored the court to believe in their innocence lest they and their families be destroyed.

The trial of the 26 men will resume January 4, according to the Washington Blade.

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Thom Senzee