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Gang Rape, Sexual Abuse and Threats: The Story Behind Egypt’s ‘Fairmont Crime’

Gang Rape, Sexual Abuse and Threats: The Story Behind Egypt’s ‘Fairmont Crime’

Credit: Egyptian Streets

On Friday 21 February 2014, on the twentieth floor of the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel, young Egyptians and foreigners were partying the night away.

Framed by panoramic views of Cairo’s skyline, the flowing waters of the Nile River and the Pyramids under clear night skies, the event was described by CairoScene and Cairo Zoom as “unforgettable and unmissable”, attended by “plenty of beautiful people, and even some scantily-clad go-go dancers to round off the shenanigans”.

[TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains graphic details of rape and sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised.]

While many attendees were leaving the byGanz TeaDance 13th Edition event safely after “partying hard to the tune of Dutch maestro Joris Voors and local fave Hafez’s brilliant beats”, a heinous crime was occurring moments away in a hotel suite: at least four men were taking turns to rape a young unconscious woman before writing their names on her limp body’s rear while a fifth man captured the rapes on video.

Now widely known on social media as the ‘Fairmont Incident’ and the ‘Fairmont Crime’ (جريمة الفيرمونت), the alleged gang rape of the young woman had remained unspoken about for years, only to come to light publicly after the landmark Ahmed Bassam Zaki case, which saw the alleged serial rapist and harasser arrested after being accused of rape and sexual abuse by dozens of women.

Both male and female acquaintances of the alleged rapists were aware of sexual crimes committed by the accused gang rapists, but remained silent – some out of fear and others out of solidarity.

Note published 05 August 2020: A day after our investigative report was published, Egypt’s Prosecutor-General announced the launch of an official investigation into the alleged Fairmont crime. This article has been updated to reflect the new developments.

The Fairmont Crime

The TeaDance 13th Edition was one of many popular parties organised by event company byGanz Extraordinaire and attended by hundreds of middle and upper class Egyptian and foreign youth six years ago.

A now-deleted promotional video of the event captured by Cairo Zoom portrayed the night as just like any other byGanz Extraordinaire event: young men and women dancing the night away to loud music as alcohol flowed freely.

 

It was at a privately hosted afterparty to the TeaDance 13th Edition, held at a hotel suite at the Fairmont Nile City hotel, where at least four men allegedly drugged and raped an unconscious woman, who had only within the months prior celebrated her 18th birthday. byGanz Extraordinaire did not organise this afterparty and it was held privately without byGanz Extraordinaire’s involvement.

Speaking to Egyptian Streets, a number of sources confirmed the attendance of the alleged rapists at the TeaDance 13th Edition event. Out of concern for their safety, and given a high number of threats and messages of harassment being received by those working on this case, Egyptian Streets has chosen not to name any of its sources used for this article but has fact-checked, corroborated and verified all information provided by these sources.

Source A verified to Egyptian Streets that one of the alleged rapists appeared in photographs captured at the event. Meanwhile, Source B and Source C, close acquaintances of another of the alleged rapists, told Egyptian Streets that the alleged rapist had himself confirmed to them that a private afterparty had indeed been held at a hotel suite at the Fairmont Nile City and that he and a number of the other alleged rapists had attended this afterparty.

Source B and Source C both said that the alleged rapist denies raping the victim, instead saying that any sexual contact that occurred between him and the victim was consensual and that the victim was conscious at the time.

However, a number of other sources confirmed to Egyptian Streets that the victim had been unable to consent to any sexual contact with anyone and that she had been in and out of consciousness during the entirety of the private afterparty at the hotel suite. Source B and Source C said that one of the alleged rapists confirmed the victim had fallen in and out of consciousness due to heavy intoxication and drug use, but not during any sexual contact between those accused of committing the crime.

“He [an alleged rapist] says the girl started engaging sexually with multiple guys. He said that he personally had sex with her, but she was conscious and it was consensual,” said Source B to Egyptian Streets, citing one of the alleged rapists.

“But then she started passing out…so he left her,” continued Source B to Egyptian Streets, adding that the alleged rapist in question claims to have seen others rape the victim while she was falling in and out of consciousness.

Evidence received by Egyptian Streets disputes the account that the victim was conscious and able to consent to sexual contact. This evidence, which will be part of the legal case against the alleged rapists, confirms the victim was, as a result of unknowingly consuming drugs, unconscious and degraded in various ways by attendees at the private afterparty.

According to Sources D and E, whose accounts have been corroborated by Egyptian Streets, the 18-year-old victim was drugged at the private afterparty and taken to a room where she was repeatedly raped and degraded by the alleged rapists.

“They drugged her, took her to a room and all other attendees at the afterparty did nothing. They knew the history of these men and did not want to get involved. They did not stop it,” said Source E to Egyptian Streets.

Source D added that the victim’s drink was spiked and that the victim did not knowingly take any drugs.

The evidence also confirms that names were written on the victim’s limp body, including at least one of the alleged rapist’s initials. More than one person’s initials were signed on the victim’s rear, as confirmed by evidence.

Visuals received by the legal team representing the victim also show the victim plopped over a couch, her arms dangling to the ground as bottles are placed on her body as if she were a table.

“If I hadn’t known her, I would have thought she was dead. That’s how lifeless she looked,” said one source speaking to Egyptian Streets after viewing the evidence.

For legal reasons, Egyptian Streets is unable to share any further information about these pieces of evidence at this stage.

Details of the alleged Fairmont crime, including visuals recorded of the alleged gang rape, have been widely known by acquaintances of those allegedly involved in the criminal act. A number of sources speaking to Egyptian Streets have confirmed that the leaked visuals were widely shared among groups of friends. These visuals have been central to the preparations of a legal case against the alleged gang rapists.

Egyptian Streets can confirm that significant evidence, including visuals, has been received by lawyers representing the victim of the alleged Fairmont crime and other victims of allegedly related sexual crimes which occurred at other locations and on other dates.

Egyptian Streets has also received information from several sources that at least one of the alleged rapists involved in the alleged Fairmont crime is abroad and no longer in Egypt.

Underage Drinking, Drug Use and Hotel Bookings

Credit: Egyptian Streets

In Egypt, laws prevent unmarried Egyptians of different genders from sharing or being in the same hotel room. Hotels are required to impose this policy and it remains unclear how a private afterparty attended by both men and women was held at a hotel suite.

According to a number of sources speaking to Egyptian Streets, the 18-year-old victim was invited to the private afterparty at the hotel suite along with a friend. It was at the private afterparty that the victim was allegedly drugged and sexually violated.

In a statement to Egyptian Streets, the Fairmont Nile City said it had been made aware of recent stories being shared about the alleged gang rape at the hotel and that at no time were any reports of the incident made to the hotel.

“An internal investigation was undertaken by the hotel upon receipt of knowledge of the disturbing allegations and we can confirm that at no time were any reports of the incident made to the hotel nor to the hotel’s tourism police,” said a spokesperson for the Fairmont Nile City to Egyptian Streets.

“Irrespective of the non-existence of a report, all personnel at the hotel are committed to assisting the relevant authorities and we will continue to offer our unfettered support on the issue.”

Egyptian Streets’ further questions concerning the hotel’s policies and whether it was aware of unmarried individuals occupying a hotel suite on the night of the gang rape were not answered. Egyptian Streets can neither confirm nor deny whether the Fairmont Nile City knew that this private afterparty was held at its premises. However, multiple sources have told Egyptian Streets that a private afterparty, attended by a number of men and women, was indeed held at the Fairmont Nile City hotel.

Concerns have also been raised in relation to underage drinking and drug use at the TeaDance 13th Edition party which was organised by byGanz Extraordinaire and held at the Fairmont Nile City hotel.

In a statement to Egyptian Streets, a spokesperson for byGanz Extraordinaire said that byGanz adheres to globally and locally set standards in relation to underage drinking and drug abuse and strongly denied its involvement in any illegal activities.

“Generally, concerning our events and venues we always guarantee the safety and security of our guests inside the venue. If any incident is caught, reported or seen it is dealt with immediately,” said the spokesperson when asked of whether they were aware of any incidents of sexual harassment or abuse at their events.

“byGanz prides itself on adhering to the globally and locally set standards for events in accordance to assault, drug abuse and underage admittance. Our jurisdiction falls within the premises of our event and not outside of that or after that like every other organiser or festival around the world. Our events are surveillanced and that is how we can follow up with any report and it can be investigated afterwards. It is in our policy to make sure no abuse or violence of any sort has taken place in the premises or duration of any of our events.” continued the spokesperson, adding that byGanz Extraordinaire is ready to support the investigation.

When questioned further on attendance by underage party-goers, byGanz Extraordinaire reiterated its policies are strict.

“Our events policy and rules are strict about underage admittance, under-age drinking, drug use of any kind and any form of assault. We take our precautions by being very strict [at the] door with our attendees and the use of security forces in and during our events. We cannot control or be held accountable for an individual’s actions outside or after our events,” said the spokesperson for byGanz Extraordinaire, before adding that they will help reveal the truth to authorities.

“To reiterate our policy, we don’t accept or condone such behaviour. The reason it is in place is to avoid any situation like that occurring. Our standards are very strong regarding our policies and many people have experienced our penalties first hand and we apply them firmly within the premises of our venue. We will help in any way we can to help reveal the truth to the authorities, but we are in no position, nor do we accept being associated with such an inhumane and barbaric incident that happened after our event and outside its doors.”

When asked what sort of penalties byGanz Extraordinaire applies, the spokesperson said that they have created a blacklist, shared between party organisers and venues, to ban individuals who cause problems.

“We try to ensure everyone’s safety equally by surveillance and tightened security. We have also in fact created a compiled black list shared between all organisers and venues a few years back surely you might have heard of it. It was created in order to ban people who make any sort of problems from all venues which in turn helps deter anyone else from making trouble in the future. That’s just one example of the measures we take. Again, only on the premises of our event and not outside its doors.”

Further questions by Egyptian Streets regarding the organiser’s knowledge of any underage drinking at the TeaDance 13th Edition event or of any sexual abuse allegations were unanswered.

According to information received by Egyptian Streets, the 18-year-old victim used connections and prior friendships to attend the TeaDance 13th Edition event despite being underage. Egyptian Streets is unable to confirm, nor is it implying, any involvement or knowledge of byGanz Extraordinaire’s management of such flouting of rules and policies.

Other Related Sexual Crimes and Legal Progress

Though social media has primarily focused on the alleged Fairmont crime, Egyptian Streets can confirm evidence has been received by lawyers in relation to at least one other alleged related rape carried out by some of the men allegedly involved in the Fairmont crime and that, as of Monday 3 August 2020, official legal complaints have been filed.

This evidence, consisting of a video recording, implicates at least one man allegedly involved in the Fairmont crime in the rape of another young, unconscious woman who for a significant period of time was unaware she had been raped.

Egyptian Streets understands that a number of other sexual crimes against other women are also being investigated and evidence is being gathered by lawyers.

As of the date of publication, multiple women and the lawyers representing them have filed official legal complaints against a number of alleged rapists involved in the Fairmont crime or allegedly connected to those involved in the Fairmont crime. A number of other women are also expected to file official legal complaints in the coming days.

To protect the victims’ privacy, Egyptian Streets is unable to reveal any further information about the legal complaints pending an official statement from the Egyptian Public Prosecution.

Update: Egypt’s Public Prosecution announced on Wednesday 05 August that the Prosecutor-General has ordered an official investigation into the alleged Fairmont crime after receiving a file from the National Council for Women containing a legal complaint and testimonies related to the Fairmont crime. Read more about this here.

Threats to Assault Police, Victims and Key Witnesses

Credit: Egyptian Streets

Since information about the alleged Fairmont crime first went public, a number of figures central to exposing the alleged rapes and various victims (of the alleged Fairmont crime and other allegedly related sexual crimes) have received various intimidating messages, including death threats.

After a remarkable success story exposing alleged rapist and harasser Ahmed Bassam Zaki, Instagram account Assault Police announced on Instagram that it had started collecting evidence on the alleged gang rape at the Fairmont Nile City hotel. However, the account was suddenly deactivated on both Instagram and Twitter shortly afterwards.

The sudden disappearance and deactivation of the account sparked intense backlash and shock from social media users and women in Egypt.

According to sources speaking to Egyptian Streets who wish to remain anonymous, Assault Police went offline as its administrator had received a number of serious death threats following Assault Police’s posts about the alleged gang rapes. Although the sources of the threats are unknown, Egyptian Streets can confirm the intimidation tactics are linked to the investigation into the alleged Fairmont crime.

Assault Police, which had almost 200,000 followers on Instagram, has also been a source of raising awareness on rape and harassment culture more generally as well as a source of education on sexual consent in Egypt. The account has worked with authorities to bring alleged serial rapist Zaki to justice, including by referring victims to the National Council for Women and providing other assistance.

Following Assault Police’s disappearance, a number of new social media accounts were created and used to continue sharing information about the alleged Fairmont crime and other allegedly related crimes.

These threats have also touched the lives of other individuals affiliated to the perpetrators and key witnesses to the incident.

One such a person is Nazli Karim, a young woman who has allegedly been receiving threats from one of the men allegedly involved in the Fairmont crime. Karim shared a Facebook post in which she revealed that she had suffered abuse and threats by one of the alleged perpetrators with whom she had been romantically involved with. She believes that she is currently being threatened, from a foreign number, as the alleged perpetrator thinks she is behind the recent social media campaign regarding the alleged Fairmont crime.

“Unfortunately I was with him for a long time and I am aware of how abusive and aggressive he can get, but this is not about me. This is about the girls who had everything taken away from them for entertainment,’’ she shared on Facebook.

In recent days, a number of social media posts attacking Karim have been posted on social media. This includes a marriage certificate of Karim and one of the men allegedly involved in the Fairmont crime and photographs of Karim in a bikini.

A number of these social media posts have already been deleted after being reported by social media users. However, an Instagram page, with 34,000 followers, continues to post about Karim. A review of the account indicates that the Instagram page was likely purchased and that the majority of the 34,000 followers are old, not located in Egypt and likely have no idea the page is now being used in this way. Additionally, a large number of the followers are fake profiles.

Egyptian Streets can confirm that Karim is not the victim of the alleged Fairmont crime. Egyptian Streets can also confirm that complaints have been made to authorities in relation to threats received by a number of people working on the case.

Reactions

On Thursday 30 July 2020, Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW), a government-funded agency, issued a statement condemning the threats made against victims of sexual abuse, activists and groups investigating and gathering evidence related to sexual crimes.

The statement, which came shortly after Assault Police was deactivated, called on all parties involved to report any threats made against them as a result of investigating or exposing sexual crimes.

“The Council has followed recently a subject related to threats of violence and abuse by some people against the founders and operators of social media pages and accounts, including those on Instagram, that publish content related to incidents of sexual assaults and abuse against women and girls,” said the NCW in its statement.

“In this regard, the National Council for Women affirms that it stands with every woman and girl who are exposed to any form of threat by providing all the necessary support.”

Incidentally, there has also been significant support for the victims of the alleged Fairmont crime and other sexual crimes on social media by various public figures and everyday Egyptians. This notably includes Egyptian television presenter Radwa El Sherbiny, who has more than 11 million followers on Instagram.

El Sherbiny has been posting messages of support for the victims on her social media accounts and has publicly condemned the threats allegedly received by those working on the case.

Conversely, local media has largely remained silent, with only a few references to a social media campaign related to the alleged Fairmont crime. Popular news outlets Al-Masry Al-Youm and Youm7 have both reported on the social media uproar, but have not provided any further analysis or independent reporting.

Meanwhile, hashtags related to the alleged Fairmont crime remained top trending in Egypt for at least five days and continue to be used widely, with social media users calling for justice and urging all those with any evidence of any related crimes to submit such evidence to lawyers or authorities.

What’s next?

As some women have already filed legal complaints, the next step is for the Egyptian Public Prosecution to review testimonies, the evidence provided and investigate further once it has received those legal complaints. The Egyptian Public Prosecution announced on Wednesday 05 August that the Prosecutor-General has ordered the launch of an official investigation. If the Egyptian Public Prosecution finds that there is sufficient evidence to indicate the occurrence of a crime or multiple crimes, then it will take steps to detain those allegedly involved in committing those crimes for questioning and pending further investigations.

This process is slightly different from that taken in relation to Ahmed Bassam Zaki, due to the nature of evidence and the fact that such evidence and first hand accounts of alleged abuse have not been shared publicly.

In Zaki’s case, the Egyptian Public Prosecution ordered Zaki’s arrest pending further investigations a couple days prior to any women filing official complaints against him. However, in that case, evidence of Zaki’s abuse, including screenshots, voice notes and first-hand accounts had been released and publicly shared online by victims and accounts such as Assault Police.

What may result in obstacles in the road to justice is the fact that at least one of the alleged rapists has reportedly fled to a European country. Nevertheless, should the Egyptian Public Prosecution issue an arrest warrant and should the embassy of the country the alleged rapist is reportedly located in be notified, then the alleged rapist may have his visa cancelled and be forced to return to Egypt (unless he holds any other citizenship).

Those who have actively worked on exposing the alleged rapists remain hopeful that the case will be properly investigated and that the alleged rapists will be arrested.

“I am hopeful, but also concerned because of the amount of threats, which may scare off victims from pursuing this further and has definitely scared people from providing more evidence,” said one Egyptian woman to Egyptian Streets who has been working closely in relation to the alleged Fairmont crime and other allegedly related sexual crimes.

“The men [allegedly involved] should be scared though. This will not be over until justice is achieved for the victims”.

Any victims of sexual crimes or domestic abuse in Egypt needing support or willing to come forward to expose their abusers can contact the National Council for Women at 15115 for assistance.

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