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Swiss film festival dismisses controversial TV reporter Mona Iraqi

Egyptian reporter facilitated a police raid on a bathhouse which saw 26 men arrested for 'debauchery'

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Dec 2014
Mona Iraqi
Snapshot from Al Kahera Wal Nas TV channel of Mona Iraqi
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The organisers of a Swiss film festival have sacked their Egyptian representative, Mona Iraqi, because of her role in a recent police raid on a Cairo bathhouse which resulted in the arrest of 26 people.

Iraqi, the presenter of an investigative current affairs programme, has been strongly criticised by rights activists for informing the police of alleged homosexual activity at a Ramsis bathhouse and precipitating a police raid.

On 7 December police raided the building and arrested 26 men, stripping them naked and rounding them into police vans. Pictures posted by Iraqi on her official Facebook page show her at the scene, filming events with her mobile phone.

After the raid, Iraqi wrote on her Facebook page that “our 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.”

The International Short Film Festival 'Shnit', based in Bern, initially stood by Iraqi, who was responsible for the Cairo chapter of the festival, writing on the festival website that Iraqi and her crew had aimed to “denounce sex trafficking (sex trade for money)” and that their presence during the raid was to document the event for the public and to ensure the police abided by humanitarian standards.

None of the men arrested – all of whom remain in custody – have been charged with sex trafficking or prostitution offences. Instead, they are likely to face charges of debauchery, a legal term usually applied to homosexual activity.

Following an online backlash and criticism from LGBT rights activists, Shnit released a statement on Tuesday saying that the festival organisers had decided to completely exclude Iraqi from the festival.

Shnit “completely distances from and condemn 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" of the festival, the statement read.

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