February 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Man arrested at Egyptian bathhouse attempts suicide

Cairo, Egypt, gay news, Washington Blade

A man who was arrested at a Cairo bathhouse in December has reportedly tried to kill himself. (Photo by Evan Hill of Al Jazeera English via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the 26 men who was charged with “debauchery” in December after Egyptian police raided a bathhouse has reportedly tried to take his own life.

El-Watan, an Egyptian newspaper, on Sunday reported it spoke with a man who claims he set his hands and feet on fire because of what he described as the constant harassment to which his co-workers at a Cairo restaurant subjected him.

“I’m harassed constantly in my workplace by the words of the people and the looks in their eyes,” said the man, according to a translation of the El-Watan article that former Human Rights Watch staffer Scott Long posted to his blog.

The man told El-Watan he is “suffering from neglect and ill-treatment” from the staff at the Cairo hospital in which he has been since he tried to take his life eight days earlier.

“I am very, very tired,” the man told the newspaper. “I want to go to a clean hospital.”

Men arrested during raid acquitted of ‘debauchery’ charges

Police on Dec. 7 arrested 26 men during a raid on the bathhouse in Cairo’s Ramses neighborhood.

Mona Iraqi, a reporter for Al Kahera Wal Nes, a pro-government television station, faced intense criticism from Long and other LGBT rights advocates for tipping off authorities after she and a cameraman tried to enter the bathhouse.

She posted a picture to her Facebook page that shows her inside the bathhouse filming the detained men with her cell phone. Iraqi later described it as “the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo” before her program broadcast video of the raid that she noted was an attempt to stop sex trafficking and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Long on his blog wrote that Iraqi during a Feb. 4 broadcast of her program once again made the aforementioned claims. He said she also insinuated that those who criticized her “were foreign agents.”

An Egyptian court last month acquitted the 26 men who were arrested inside the bathhouse.

El-Watan reported the man’s family tried to prevent him from leaving their home after his acquittal. Long in his blog wrote the man told the newspaper that one of his brothers “insisted on accompanying him everywhere he went.”

“[I have] no freedom,” the man told El-Watan.

Egypt in 2014 received $1.7 billion in U.S. aid

The bathhouse raid took place against the backdrop of ongoing persecution of LGBT Egyptians that has increased since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ousted his predecessor, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July 2013.

Egyptian authorities in November sentenced eight men who appeared in a “gay marriage” video on YouTube to three years in prison. Grindr two months earlier issued a warning to its users in the country after reports of police entrapping gay men on social media apps began to emerge.

Authorities in 2001 arrested more than 50 men who were on a floating gay nightclub on a boat moored along the Nile River in Cairo. Reports indicate the men — who became known as the Cairo 52 — were beaten and forced to undergo so-called anal tests to “prove their homosexuality.”

More than 20 of the men who were arrested inside the Cairo bathhouse in December reportedly underwent the procedure.

“We welcome the court’s decision that brought this case to a just conclusion,” a State Department official told the Blade after the men’s acquittal on Jan. 12. “We continue to stress the importance of protecting the basic rights of all Egyptians.”

The U.S. during the 2014 fiscal year gave $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, with the majority of it going to the country’s military. More than $7 million of this allotment went to what the State Department described to the Blade last month as “other security assistance programs.”

El-Watan published its interview with the man who said he was arrested in the bathhouse raid on the same day a group affiliated with the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in Libya.

The Associated Press reported the Egyptian military on Monday used F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. to carry out airstrikes against the extremists in the Libyan city of Darna.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • The Muslim brotherhood is putting pressure on Sisi to show he is not like America…too liberal and too promiscuous. Gays have been tortured and murdered in Egypt in Mori's reign too, but at least now the People in general are a lot happier. Morsi was destrying the economy and all the prosperity of the past with blessings of the terrorist MB. However for some odd reason our media is playing down all good done and wishing for Sisi to leave so another oppressive dictator can be put in place with faked elections. What I urge be done is help LGBT people who are poor or middleclass escape any threats by the governments. Because their economies were so destroyed only the rich can afford to leave some nations, and those without connections and a lot of wealth cannot get a plane ticket out. Visas are hard to come by as well. Refugees are abused for months. We need to stop pointing fingers of blame when convenient and begin actual help for those who cannot help themselves…at least partly because of US intervention in foreign elections.

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