Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts

October 3, 2016

Egypt The Great Jailer of Gay Men in the Middle East

Just after it became known in June that the attacker of Orlando's Pulse nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Egypt's foreign ministry immediately moved to condemn the attack on a U.S. gay bar.

"Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery," the ministry said.

Yet the statement didn't acknowledge that Pulse was a gay club, and that many of the victims were members of the LGBTQ community.

Three days later, a court in Cairo sentenced two 18-year-olds to three years in prison on charges of "debauchery": The young men were apprehended through government surveillance of social media dating apps for gay men, according to court records.

It's no surprise to gay Egyptians, say community leaders. In fact, they say Egypt has become one of the world's biggest jailers of gay men, with as many as 500 behind bars on "morals" charges — and the crackdown is escalating.

"Most of the gay people in Egypt are even not out to their families — they are living in fear, not living their lives," said Yousef Rizik, who at 18 is one of Egypt's youngest gay leaders and among the few willing to speak openly about the wave of repression against the community.

"If you have money and you are just being secretly gay and not an activist, then you are fine but if you are poor with no connections and openly gay, then you are definitely in prison," he added.

Activists say the current wave of arrests started in October 2015, as Egyptian security services extended their crackdown from Islamist groups to civil society organizations.

The situation is being echoed in a number of countries in the region, they add.

"Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait have all rushed to condemn the crime in Orlando labeling it terrorism while insisting Islam has nothing to do with it," said a spokesman for Mesahat, an LGBT service organization operating in Egypt and Sudan.

"These same governments keep arresting and torturing gay people and are putting them in jail. Meanwhile they are sponsoring a religious discourse that feeds homophobia."

A new phenomenon

The Quran mentions homosexuality only once, in a retelling of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But gay people in the region say widespread condemnation of homosexuality came about only in the 1980s, when the rise of the global LGBT rights movement coincided with the expansion of ultraconservative Wahhabism sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Activities and relationships that were considered normal 30 years ago are now described as haram, an Islamic term to describe religiously prohibited behavior like eating pork or consuming alcohol. Homosexuality is now frequently condemned as a "Western" vice and a threat to Arab and Islamic culture.

"Wahhabi attitudes spread to Egypt and took over a more enlightened, liberated Islam," said Ahmed Hafez, an Egyptian analyst with the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT advocacy group.

"Now the police in Egypt are targeting gay people to show the public that they are on the side of morality and are doing a good job in fighting debauchery, as a distraction to hide their failures in the crackdown on terrorism or drug trafficking," he added.

In Iraq and Syria, the shadow of ISIS adds to the danger

"Day after day, we read about how the Islamic State, militias and extremists handle the LGBT community in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco," said Khalid Abdel-Hadi, 27, publisher of My Kali, the only LGBT magazine in the Middle East.

"[We often see] videos of LGBT individuals being thrown from tall buildings, head first, and then stoned by bystanders." In mid-August, ISIS released a video of a man accused of "homosexual acts" and "corruption of thought" being pushed off the roof of a tall building.

In Jordan, too, local rights groups say ISIS has killed people for being gay. The country has no formal groups responsible for protecting LGBT rights.

"LGBT people still often cannot report or seek redress for discrimination or criminal acts against them, given the social stigma," said Adam Coogle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Amman.

But an Amman restaurateur who works on HIV awareness among Syrian refugees in Jordan's Zatari Camp said "it's not the right time for advancing gay rights here." He asked that his name be withheld for safety reasons.

"The Ministry of Social Development turned down our request to register a LGBT social service organization last year, but after Orlando, I'm more concerned about a lone wolf attack by Daesh against the few places where we can openly socialize," he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Coogle says the situation for LGBT people in Jordan is still better than in other Middle East countries.
Meanwhile in countries like Egypt and the Gulf states, safe spaces are limited to discreet hotel bars catering mostly to foreigners, and small gatherings in wealthy private homes.

Online entrapment by the authorities is also a pervasive worry in Egypt, Syria and Palestine.

The exception that proves the rule

Despite its political instability, Beirut, Lebanon, may be the one Arab capital where LGBT people are increasingly comfortable and safe.

"We even have a 'straight-friendly' gay bar in Beirut," joked 32-year-old Georges Azzii, co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese nonprofit organization advocating for the LGBT community. "But it was empty for the first few days after Orlando."

Lebanon does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, but article 534 of Lebanon's penal code punishes "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with up to one year in prison.

The law does not specify what might constitute "contrary to the order of nature," leaving a large margin of interpretation to individual judges. The provision has been used mainly to prosecute people suspected of homosexuality.

Azzi says four court rulings over the past few years have restricted the use of these laws against Lebanese gays, although the police and security forces still punish those perceived to be gay or transgender.

"Even with the advancements in the law and increasingly supportive media," he says, "people in the community are now on edge."

This story was reported from Cairo, Egypt.

This article, by Jacob Wirtschafter, originally appeared at GlobalPost.

September 23, 2016

Egypt Gay Activist Still Optimistic Despite the Setbacks

The Arab Spring in Feb. 18,  2011. Crowds chant for the removal and detention of President Hosni Mubarak. AP
At one point Egypt use to be my favorite subject and it pushed me to make sure this blog covered events world wide not just in the United States. After the revolution in Egypt backfired by having a free but inexperienced electorate gave the nation away to a Muslim minority who lied like all revolutionaries in this century have lied to get to power. After the military took over to avert the nation going into chaos all hope was dimmed. There was nothing to write about Egypt anymore because nothing was coming out. Once in a while we would get news about gays being arrested and put in jail or sentenced to death.
It’s really nice finding a gay activist from there who feels hopeful about the future. These are his words as taken by Global

The life of a gay man in Egypt isn’t easy.

Though same-sex intercourse isn’t technically illegal in the Arab world’s most populous country, a broad ‘debauchery’ statute has been used by both the current government and that of former dictator Hosni Mubarak to prosecute those suspected of being gay.

However the relative anonymity of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets has provided LGBT activists a forum for advancing their cause in a country where there are few lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people living openly.

~Among the leaders of the online community is a Cairo man who operates the Twitter handle @Egaypt. 
The activist, who asked that he be identified only as “Ahmed” out of concerns for his safety, spoke with Global Journalist’s Rachel Foster-Gimbel about the social opprobrium and hostile legal environment for LGBT people that persists five years after the Arab Spring.

The climate Ahmed describes has been altered by a notorious police raid on a Cairo bathhouse in December 2014. Tipped off by an Egyptian TV presenter named Mona Iraqi, police dragged 26 men from the building and charged them with ‘debauchery’ as Iraqi filmed them.

Ultimately both the government and Iraqi faced public backlash. All 26 men were acquitted, though not before they were publicly ‘outed.’ Iraqi herself was charged with defamation for her sensational coverage of the raid, though in January she was acquitted of the charge.

Still, some in the LGBT community saw the raid as a reason to leave the country. Ahmed prefers to remain. “I still think there is hope in Egypt,” he says. “If I didn’t see hope, I wouldn’t stay, but I think there is still hope.”

Global Journalist: What was it like for you to grow up gay in Egypt?

Ahmed: In school I was very introverted. I didn’t really want to interact with a lot of people. Then in university – it’s a huge place and I kind of started to express more or myself and I found people that are similar to me, not necessarily LGBTQ people but just people that are ok with someone being gay or queer.

For others it’s not the same. I was lucky enough to come from what we consider an upper class in Egypt, so it’s more…open-minded.

For others, especially the middle class, the struggle is much harder. A lot of people go through psychological therapy and hormonal therapy sometimes. I was lucky enough not to go through that.

GJ: When did you come out to your parents?

Ahmed: I’m not out to my parents, no. I think they know, but they’re just like, in denial about it. We never really talked about it. My mom would comment about my pants, my Dad would comment about the rainbow bracelets I was wearing, but it was never really a topic we decided to discuss.

Typically, when you graduate, your parents start discussing marriage with you. That’s not an option for me. A lot of people in Egypt that are LGBTQ decide to get married for social reasons, but I personally think, I’m not going to put someone else in jeopardy and suffer with me.

GJ: Can you tell us why you need to remain anonymous?

Ahmed: There’s a lot of threats. I was also a human rights activist before I became an LGBT activist, so that [being an LGBT activist] would put me and my organization in jeopardy.

Right now there is no one in Egypt that you would recognize and say, ‘He is the face of the LGBT movement.’ Maybe one day I will come out and be okay with showing my face, but not under this threat.

GJ: How did the 2011 revolution that ousted former president Mubarak affect the LGBT movement?

Ahmed: You know in these movies where the girl dies and the hero is holding the girl trying to wake her up and she wakes up again and everyone’s happy?

That’s exactly how the revolution was.

It’s was a huge boost for hope and freedom. Everyone says the revolution failed. I mean, it kind of failed in a lot of senses, but the most important thing that it has achieved is that it broke fear.

After the revolution, more people were coming out. More people were expressing themselves in fashion statements or Facebook statements… but people were talking more about things that were always taboo.

I still remember there was this graffiti in Tahrir Square [in central Cairo] that had two male cops kissing each other and someone like the artist wrote: ‘Cops Are Gay,’ or something.

And another person from the revolution who was also an artist removed that and [drew] rainbow mustaches on the police officers and wrote “homophobia is not revolutionary.”

GJ: Can you tell us about the arrests at the ham am [bathhouse] in 2014 televised by Mona Iraqi and how that affected Egypt’s LGBT community?

Ahmed: The story was, she was doing an investigation about a hamam…and [supposedly] it was known that this place was gay and she knew it and she started to do this investigation and she basically outed everyone there.

A lot of these people were taken to prison and a lot of these people weren’t out to people in the community…so it ruined their lives.

Obviously, it was a violation of media ethics and a violation of their humanity…and it struck the community because they’d never seen anything that low before.

It was more of a wake-up call, like “Oh wait, we’re still in Egypt. We might have been doing these kinds of parties, but we’re living in denial. We’re living in our own bubble in a country that is extremely homophobic. So that definitely kind of encouraged a lot of people to leave and just get out of Cairo.


June 27, 2016

Paris Opens Accident Investigation on EgyptAir// Terrorism Not the Cause

We think of terrorism when there is an airplane crash or when there is something for which we don’t have immediate answers. On this particular crash in which terrorism is been on everyone’s lips at least as far as the French government investigation is concern it was not terror but probably an unfortunate accident or even a criminal accident.
A spokeswoman told the Associated Press that it would begin as an accident inquiry because there was no evidence so far to link it to terrorism.
The authorities, she said, were "not at all" favoring the theory the Airbus A320 was brought down deliberately.
Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, killing all 66 people on board.
Earlier on Monday, Egyptian investigators said the damaged memory chips from the plane's cockpit voice and data recorders had been flown to France.
Technicians at France's BEA air accident investigations agency will attempt to clean and repair them, and then send them back to Egypt for analysis.

ocean depth map for area where authorities are searching for flight MS804

The flight recorders were recovered from the plane's wreckage, about 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian coast and at a depth of about 3,000m (9,800ft).
The cause of the crash remains a mystery.
Automated electronic messages sent by the plane revealed that smoke detectors went off in a toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit, minutes before the plane's signal was lost.
Radar data shows the plane turned 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right, dropping from 11,300m (37,000ft) to 4,600m (15,000ft) and then 3,000m (10,000ft) before it disappeared.

What do we know so far?

Map of EgyptAir flight route

  • EgyptAir Flight MS804 vanished over the eastern Mediterranean early on Thursday 19 May with 66 passengers and crew on board
  • Some surface debris was found 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian city of Alexandria
  • Wreckage was subsequently found in several locations at a depth of about 3,000m (6,800ft) 
  • Signals from the plane indicated that smoke was detected in the toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit
  • Aircraft made a 90-degree left turn followed by a 360-degree turn to the right before vanishing off radar
  • BBC

June 20, 2016

Egypt Condemns Gay Attacks Yet it continues its Persecution and Crack Down of Gays

 2yrs ago in Egypt. Only crime of all those men is to be accused of being Gay
On June 15, three days after the attack on an Orlando gay nightclub by a gunman that killed 49 people and left 53 injured, Yousuf Rezk, 18, posted a picture on Facebook of a man raising a rainbow flag (a symbol of LGBT pride) with the Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop. Not surprisingly, the face of the man in the picture was hidden to protect his identity. The caption below the photograph read, “In solidarity with the LGBT community around the world, which still has to fight against hatred and discrimination." 
As a young member of Egypt’s LGBT community, Rezk has experienced prejudice and stigma firsthand. He is one of a handful of Egyptian gays who have courageously come out to their families about their sexual orientation. And Rezk has gone even further. On his Facebook page, he defiantly describes himself as "an LGBT activist." Going public with his sexuality is an act of bravery in Egypt, a deeply conservative society where nearly 200 people have been arrested since late 2013 on the charge of “debauchery.” A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of Egyptians believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. 

Rezk’s decision to reveal his sexuality has, however, come with a high price. A year ago, his parents threw him out of the house, after failing to persuade him to change his orientation. He has since had to fend for himself, taking on odd jobs to pay his school fees.

“My family still has hope that this is just a passing phase and that one day, I’ll be miraculously cured,” he told Al-Monitor. 

His family's non-acceptance of his sexuality has not been the only challenge. Rezk has also been confronted in his church by the strong belief that “homosexuality is a disease that can be cured by some sort of reorientation therapy.” As a result, he has embraced atheism as an alternative to his original Coptic Orthodox faith. Since leaving home and abandoning the church, Rezk has felt “relieved” and “liberated” and can now wear his hair in long braids down to his waist “the way I’ve always wanted to,” he said. His non-traditional appearance gets him a lot of unwarranted attention on the streets of Cairo where he has had to put up with a lot of sexual harassment and catcalls. 

“I’m often groped and verbally attacked when I use public transport, including by the police, the very people who should be protecting me,” he lamented.

In the latest in a series of similar incidents, Rezk was thrown off the subway train by a crowd of commuters who sneered at his effeminate appearance and gestures.

“Man up!” they shouted scornfully, pushing him off the carriage as the train was moving out of the station. Luckily, he managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Rezk’s suffering is shared by other members of Egypt’s LGBT community who live in constant fear as targets of a brutal crackdown on them since the military takeover of the country in July 2013. While homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Egypt, scores of people have been handed down "shockingly long" prison sentences on charges of “incitement to, facilitation of or habitual debauchery,” according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

On April 24, 11 men were sentenced to jail terms ranging between three and 12 years for the “crime” of habitual debauchery and “abuse of a communications medium” (i.e., the internet). They were arrested in a flat in the Cairo suburb of Agouza in September 2015 and were allegedly part of a network that offered sexual services for money, acquiring clients through social media, according to the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper. In a statement published on its official website, the EIPR criticized the verdicts as “a continuation of the orchestrated vice police campaign against gay and transgender people.” In November 2014, a Cairo misdemeanor court sentenced eight men to three years in prison on the charge of “violating public decency” after they appeared in a YouTube video showing what seemed to be “a gay wedding ceremony.”

In January, TV reporter Mona Iraqi was acquitted of the charge of defaming 26 men who were arrested in a police raid on a public bathhouse in central Cairo in December 2014 for allegedly “organizing or taking part in same sex orgies.” Nearly a month after their arrests, all 26 defendants were cleared of the charges and released. Their release, however, came too little, too late. They had already been subjected to degrading anal tests to determine their sexuality. Moreover, Iraqi had taken pictures with her cellphone of the half-naked men being pulled out of the bathhouse by police, which she later posted on her Facebook page. The traumatic ordeal prompted one of the men to set himself on fire shortly after his release. Despite the outrage sparked by the controversial case, a six-month jail sentence and 10,000 Egyptian pound ($1,125) fine handed down to Iraqi in November 2015 for ‘‘publishing false news” was reversed earlier this year by a Cairo appeals court, dashing the hopes of rights advocates for an end to the crackdown on Egypt’s LGBT community anytime soon. 

The recent prosecutions of members of the LGBT community have prompted gay dating sites such as Grindr to issue warnings to their Egyptian users that “police may be posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you.” 

Indeed, this method of hunting down gays and others from the LGBT community has been used by the police in Egypt since the days of ousted authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak. Police raids on gay hangouts and private gay parties during the administration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are reminiscent of the much-publicized 2001 “Queen Boat case” when 52 men were rounded up in a raid on a floating disco on the River Nile and were charged with “performing immoral acts, the use of perverted sexual activities and contempt of religion.” The men were reportedly subjected to beatings and other abuse including invasive examinations to determine whether they had engaged in anal intercourse. 

Sadly, little has changed for Egypt’s LGBT community since the days of Mubarak, despite the high hopes of the activists who had called for “Freedom and Social Justice” during the 2011 uprising that forced the autocratic ruler to step down. Ali (known to his friends as Mariam), 25, dreams of undergoing a sex-change operation because “I believe that deep inside I’m a woman.” He told Al-Monitor, “The situation for us is worse today as there is a lot more fear.” Constantly harassed on the streets and unable to find a job, “she” has been left with no option but to sell sex for a living. Mariam has also been arrested several times and alleges she was raped with a bottle while in jail “to punish me for my perversion."

Ironically, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement condemning last week’s attack on the Orlando gay club. Offering condolences, the statement published on the Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page reiterated calls “to fight terrorism, which knows no boundaries or religion.” It also called for "international solidarity to counter the scourge worldwide." Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, also denounced the attack as a “heinous crime” that violates all tolerant teachings of Islam. 

To Rezk and Mariam, the words ring hollow.

“This is hypocrisy at its best. Where is the outcry when we suffer persecution and abuses on a daily basis?” Rezk said. 

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Mariam said, adding in a sarcastic tone, “Would someone please tell the authorities that charity begins at home.”

They both look forward to a day when they can leave Egypt to settle any place where they can be themselves and be accepted for who they really are.

March 12, 2015

Shinning a Spotlight on Egypt’s New LGBT Crackdown


Speakers at an upcoming economic development conference in Egypt are being urged to use the platform to address the country’s recent human rights abuses, particularly its crackdown on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.  
The American LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign has sent letters to 12 speakers scheduled for the Egypt Economic Development Conference who are representatives of American or multinational corporations, highlighting the recent arrests of LGBT people in the North African nation and urging them to use their summit discussions to engage participants in “important conversations about how a diverse and inclusive society could better attract investment to Egypt and the long-term benefits of such an approach.”
The Human Rights Campaign says many of the conference speakers it has reached out to belong to companies the organization already has a positive relationship with, or that the speakers themselves have a record of advocating for the rights of LGBT people. Among the conference participants HRC says it has sent letters to are Coca-Cola executive Ahmet Bozer, Microsoft's Ali Faramawy, Bob Dudley of BP, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Peter Orszag of Citigroup.
“What we see is a new world where there are these tremendous champions in leadership positions in places across the world,” says Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “So when a country backslides or takes measures to harm the LGBT community, HRC has expectations that those leaders continue to demonstrate their values."
Egyptian officials hope that the conference – which will be held this weekend in Sharm el-Sheikh and has been organized with partners from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – will help boost the country’s economy, which has struggled since 2011, the same year former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted.
Secretary of State John Kerry will also attend the conference while in Egypt this week. A State Department press release Monday outlining the trip said human rights would be part of Kerry’s broader agenda while visiting the country. It is unclear whether he plans to bring LGBT rights up – publicly or privately – at the economic summit.
"Secretary Kerry has the opportunity to reiterate the importance of protecting human rights and civil society when addressing those convened at the investment conference,” Cobb says. “The U.S. must make it clear that suppressing civil society and violating the human rights of LGBT people weakens Egypt and makes it a less attractive investment for international partners."
Cobb also points out that the State Department has named, for the first time, a special envoy for LGBT rights.
In recent months, dozens of LGBT people – particularly gay men and transgender women – have been the target of arrests and prosecution in Egypt. The country does not have a law specifically outlawing homosexuality, but authorities have used public debauchery and public indecency laws to target people believed to be gay or lesbian. 
The arrests often are widely broadcast, suggesting a collusion with Egyptian media. And even when those targeted are not ultimately convicted, as was the case for 26 men in a December bathhouse raid, the public nature of their arrests means they will likely continue to face harassment.
There is much speculation as to what is driving the crackdown, says Amy Hawthorne, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. Some say it's a top-down effort by current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to shore up political support and rebut allegations that his government is too secular.
“Others think it's elements inside the Interior Ministry or other security forces that really want to go after particular segments of society for other reasons,” she says.
Hawthorne notes the abuses extend much wider than the LGBT community, with Islamists and affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, journalists, and political protesters also targeted. A report released by The Arabic Network For Human Rights Information estimates that 42,000 people were detained during the last year and a half for political reasons.
The role the global community can play in stemming such abuses is complicated. Where LGBT rights are concerned, anti-gay forces often paint homosexuality as a Western import, and thus foreign calls to end abuse can backfire.
“There’s almost a necessary pushback if you start addressing it so overtly, particularly in certain cultures,” says Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of The Corporate Council on Africa.
Nevertheless, the human rights community has stressed the issue as a priority to both its governmental and private sector allies. A number of groups raised their concerns ahead of a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit last August, given the track record of some of the countries participating when it came to LGBT rights and other abuses. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, also put pressure on the games' corporate sponsors to speak out in favor of LGBT rights in response to persecution of gays and lesbians under President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
How willing companies are to make LGBT rights an issue at the conference remains to be seen. A GE spokeswoman said the company was aware of the HRC letter’s existence, but the company had not yet received it. Amr Awadallah – founder and chief technology officer of Cloudera – received the letter, but because he is on a panel focusing on technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, he doesn't plan to discuss any other topics, a spokeswoman says.
When asked whether Dudley, the BP exec, had received the letter HRC said it sent him, a BP spokesman said in an email, “Our CEO's correspondence is private. However we as BP have a broad and supportive diversity and inclusion policy." The spokesman also noted that BP’s code of conduct supports diversity. 
Likewise Citigroup, where Orszag – the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama – works, offered the following statement:
"Citi supports the protection and elevation of human rights around the world and is guided by fundamental principles of human rights, such as those in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (“ILO Declaration”). Citi is also a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact. Citi supports the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UN Guiding Principles”) including the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Our support for these fundamental principles is reflected in our policies and actions towards our employees, suppliers, clients, communities and the countries where we do business.
Citi has approximately 200 million client accounts and 250,000 employees and has operations in more than 100 countries. As a global financial institution, Citi can impact human rights as an employer and can have an influence on human rights through our business relationships with clients and suppliers. We have established a set of policies and standards, described below, which reflect Citi’s mission to enable progress and our key principles of Common Purpose, Responsible Finance, Leadership and Ingenuity. Through these policies and standards and related due diligence, Citi seeks to implement our responsibility to respect human rights with regard to our employees, suppliers, clients, communities and host countries."
Some of the other businesses associated with targets of the HRC letter either did not respond to a request for comment or were unable to reach the executive in question. 
“So far it seems like there are some businesses that are willing to invest there because they see the opportunities outweighing the risks,” Hawthorne says. “So the challenge based on human rights is to really make the case that all this repression is going to affect their ability to do business – because we know just a moral argument isn’t going to work.” 

Egypt’s gay community is going deeper underground in fear after police arrest dozens of men at a Cairo bathhouse in a raid that was then featured on a lurid TV tabloid program stirring up public panic over “debauchery.” Egypt’s government is cracking down on gays, activists say, to promote its credentials as protectors of public morals

By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press
CAIRO (AP) — Just before midnight, the police navigated down the narrow alleys of an old downtown Cairo district and descended on a rundown bathhouse. They dragged out dozens of nearly naked men, who covered their faces as they struggled to hold up towels, and loaded them into police trucks.
There to film it all was an Egyptian television presenter, who claims she actually triggered the raid by tipping off police about alleged homosexual activity in the bathhouse. Days later, she aired what she boasted was an expose of "a den of mass perversion" spreading AIDS in Egypt.
The raid last week is the latest in a crackdown that gay rights activists say has made 2014 the worst year in a decade for Egypt's gay community. Homosexuals have been driven deeper underground, fearing not only arrest but also the public scare-mongering against the community drummed up in the media.
"I was devastated," a gay woman in Cairo's upscale district of Zamalek told The Associated Press, speaking of the raid and the images aired on "The Hidden," a lurid TV expose program. "Every time there is an incident, the community starts to hide underground ... while police go hunting," she said. Like others, she spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution.
"If this interview were a year ago, I wouldn't hide my identity because I love who I am," she added.
Activists say that by cracking down on gays, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi aims to boost its credentials as a protector of morals and religious values in a competition with its rival, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. El-Sissi led the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power last year, and since then security forces have all but crushed the Brotherhood, arresting more than 20,000 and killing hundreds as they put down Islamist protests. The government has also arrested secular opposition figures, effectively silencing any voice of dissent.
At the same time, pro-government media have been whipping up fears of threats to society from outsiders, whether foreign plotters, homosexuals, atheists or even devil worshippers.
Gays are taking precautionary measures. They avoid public places where they used to gather and stay away from Internet and dating applications, fearing police traps. Some contemplate leaving the country.
"We are an easy prey, the weakest link," one gay man in his 30s said. "The regime is at war with Islamists and we are small thing they can crush on their way and as part of their propaganda war."
He said he now avoids social gatherings and is careful when talking on the phone or when using dating mobiles apps like Grindr.
"I am even afraid at home with my partner," he said.
Around 150 men this year have been arrested or are on trial in connection with homosexuality, the highest number in more than a decade, said Scott Long, an American activist and researcher on gay rights. He said this is the worst year since 2001, when police raided a Nile boat restaurant and arrested 52 men accused of holding a gay party.
This year, police have made arrests nearly every month, sometimes in raids on houses, said Long, who tracks such incidents.
"There is consistent pattern of invading private life. Arresting people in their apartment, breaking down their doors, looking for evidence of 'deviance', what underwear you wear, looking for condoms in the drawers," Long said. "This is a strong message by the state power to pervade private life."
"It's a cynical, opportunistic kind of power play," said Long. Under Morsi, the ruling Islamists "didn't need to prove their moral credentials," he said, but for el-Sissi's government, "there is a need to show they are defending the moral principles of Egypt."

February 24, 2015

Egyptian TV Show Host who aired Segment Accusing 26 men of Homosexuality Will Stand Trial for Defamation

Sometimes what goes around will come around and so is the case of this fame seeking sensationalist anti gay show host. Egypt lost a lot of face before a civilized world by picking more than 2 dozen men that were at a wedding on a dock boat and charging them with sedition(No law against homosexuality, so they use what  ever they think it fit, sedition it’s a favorite in the arab world) 
Mona Iraqi aired the arrests of 26 men at a Cairo Bathhouse, accusing them of homosexuality
Mona Iraqi, the television show host that aired a segment accusing 26 men of homosexuality in a Cairo bathhouse, will stand trial on charges of defamation and the spreading of false news, announced the prosecution.
Iraqi and Tarek Nour, owner of the channel of Al-Qahera Wal-Nas which broadcasts Iraqi’s television show, will both face preliminary hearings on April 5.
The television show had aired the arrests of the 26 men, with Iraqi claiming responsibility for informing security forces of “debauchery” at the Cairo bathhouse.
However, a Cairo Misdemeanour’s Court acquitted all defendants, finding no evidence of any debauchery or violations of public decency.
Following the acquittal, family members had vowed to sue Iraqi for her false accusations, which received stringent criticism from human rights activists.
Egypt does not clearly ban homosexuality. However, Article 9 of the 1961 Anti-Prostitution Law punishes those guilty of “inciting debauchery and immorality” by imprisonment for a period ranging from three to five years.
In recent years, Egypt has cracked down on homosexual activity, including arrests and charges for ‘Egypt’s First Gay Wedding Video’ that appeared to show men getting married on a boat in the Nile.

February 18, 2015

Corrupt Egypt Still Using Abusive Anal probes to Imprison gays


Authorities in Egypt are using “abusive” anal examinations they claim can detect “chronic homosexuals” to arrest and imprison gay men.
The government is using discredited scientific theories dating back more than 150 years to conduct the so-called tests, which are common in around 70 countries where sodomy is still illegal.
Human rights activists say 2014 was the worst year in a decade for Egypt's gay community, with at least 150 men arrested or put on trial.
Egyptian authorities have ordered the arrest of nine men who appeared in a video purporting to show the country’s first gay marriageEgyptian authorities ordered the arrest of nine men who appeared in a video purporting to show the country’s first gay marriageThe Justice Ministry’s Forensic Medical Authority governs examinations, where suspects are made to prostrate themselves as if in Muslim prayer so doctors can assess them.
The deputy director of the authority, Dr Maged Louis, told Buzzfeed News that probes were not used and sketched different shapes of anus to support his claims that “chronic homosexuals” could be detected by monitoring contractions and the lack of wrinkles.
“The shape of the hole will change,” he said. The anus “won’t be normal anymore and will look like the female vagina.”
Although there is no law specifically banning homosexuality in Egypt, the offence of habitual debauchery is used to prosecute men suspected of having sex.
Laws governing indecency, explicit images and prostitution are used in other cases.
A gay rights protest in 2001 in New York calling for Egypt's release of 52 gay menA gay rights protest in New York calling for Egypt's release of 52 gay menHuman Rights Watch report called the homosexuality tests “invasive, intrusive, abusive, and profoundly humiliating…a form of torture, carried out in violation of international standards and professional principles”.
The group said the theory was based on “obsolete, nineteenth-century medical mythology” taken from Auguste Ambroise Tardieu’s 1857 work, the Forensic Study of Assaults against Decency.
The French forensic doctor laid out six discredited signs of engagement in gay sex, including sores, fissures and a funnel-shaped anus.
France may have moved on but his theories still govern Egypt’s so-called tests, along with those in several other states once part of foreign empires with anti-homosexuality laws left by Victorian colonialists.
Gay men are known by the derogatory slang term “khawal” in Egypt and live under the fear of public shaming as well as persecution by the authorities.
Message displayed to Grindr users in EgyptA message sent to Grindr users in Egypt warned them to hide their identitiesIn January, an Egyptian court acquitted 26 men arrested in a televised raid last month on a public bathhouse in Cairo.
A pro-government television network had aired humiliating scenes of half-naked man being dragged out of the bathhouse by police in December and the trial was highly publicised.
The defendants’ lawyer accused the police of subjecting the men to an “inhuman” forensic investigation that produced a “vague and incomplete” report that cited “scratches” as indication of possible homosexual activity.
Their acquittal came less than a month after an appeals court reduced prison sentences from three years to one for eight men convicted of “inciting debauchery” for appearing in an alleged same-sex wedding video.
Human Rights Watch said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi should be investigatedPresident al-Sisi could be trying to boost his popularity among conservative MuslimsProsecutors told police to arrest the men and ordered the coroner to carry out physical examinations of all of the accused with a view to pressing charges against them for "inciting debauchery and spreading images that violate public decency".
Activists claim President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is cracking down on the gay community as well as atheists and other minority groups in a wider campaign against all forms of dissent and diversity in the turbulent country.
The government may be seeking to boost its credentials as a protector of morals and religious values to placate members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

January 18, 2015

High Profile Egyptian Lawyer Sues Army for claiming they had Cure for AIDS, Hep C

(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) High-profile lawyer Khaled Abou Bakr filed a lawsuit against army officials who promoted the controversial AIDS and Hepatitis C curing device in 2014, he announced on his Twitter account on Sunday.

The lawsuit was submitted on the grounds that they manipulated and failed to deliver their promise to the Egyptian people.

Abou Bakr demanded investigations against the first administrator of the so-called cure, Maj. Ibrahim Abdel Atty El-Sayed.

In his published complaint addressed to Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, Abou Bakr said that in March, the army opened up the formal application route from patients. They promised to deliver the cure by 30 June followed by a six-month postponement notice on that date, but applicants have yet to see any results.

In February 2014, Abdel Atty announced he reached a cure for AIDS and Hepatitis C with 100% guaranteed results, saying: "I promise you that after today there will be no more Virus C patients."

The announcement was made in the presence of then-defence minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and former interim president Adly Mansour. Maj. Taher Abdullah, former head of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority (AFEA), spoke of medical and scientific achievement at the institution.

Shortly after, controversy erupted among scientists who expressed scepticism about the alleged cure. Egyptian scientist and former presidential advisor Essam Heggy told the press here were no scientific grounds for that cure, adding that "it would reflect badly on Egyptian scientists' reputation across the globe".

Army officials, journalists, activists and scientists exchanged back-and-forth accusations in the media following information that the army was launching investigations on the curing device. This would be done through an assigned scientific committee, although Abdullah denied this to the press.

Abou Bakr included Abdullah in his lawsuit, in addition to Dr Ahmed Moanes, a digestive and liver specialist at Ain Shams University's Faculty of Medicine. The lawsuit said Moanes spoke on behalf of the committee expressing their scepticism, yet kept defending the cure in the media.

Some media reports said that Abdel Atty was neither scientifically certified nor given the military rank as an honorary title. Despite this, Abdel Atty appeared alongside a group of men on a televised programme to speak about his 'invention' in military uniforms. Activists said "he had embarrassed the army".

Abou Bakr demanded compensation for the poor, helpless patients, who gave up their original treatment plans following high hopes in light of the army's announced breakthrough.

Surgeon-turned-satirist Bassem Youssef repeatedly mocked the "invention" on his television show, often adding a digital time ticker on the screen to remind the audience of the army's deadline promises.

A year before the army's device invention was made public, it was reported that an army official had developed a detection device for Hepatitis C, known as C-fast. Scientists' opinions from all over the world had were divided between confirmation that the device actually worked, has been tested and was a breakthrough, while others remained sceptical, according to interviews published by The Guardian in February 2013.

There are approximately 40,000 deaths from Hepatitis C and approximately 165,000 new cases in Egypt every year, according to remarks made in July 2014 by Dr Henk Bekedam, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Egypt.

January 12, 2015

Shocker, Egyptian Court Rules on Gays Arrested on Bath house

  Breaking coming from CBS Interactive                                                                        

CAIRO  A Cairo court acquitted 26 men on Monday who had been accused of "debauchery"in a rare victory for Egypt's gay community that has of late faced an increasingly oppressive police crackdown.

The defendants had faced between 1-9 years in prison on varying degrees of "debauchery" -- the most common Egyptian legal term used in cases against men accused of homosexuality.
Though homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, the police and courts have a history of persecuting the gay community in this socially-conservative country. That Monday's ruling went they way it did surprised many observers.
"It's unprecedented," said longtime human rights activist Scott Long. "This just doesn't happen."
The session lasted barely a minute -- just enough time for the judge to do a roll-call of the defendants' names before uttering a single word: "innocent."
The court immediately erupted into raucous celebration as the men inside the courtroom cage shouted and waved their shackled hands and attending relatives yelled and sobbed in relief.
For the accused and their families, this case has been a terrible ordeal. Societal stigma against homosexuality is strong here; as the defendants were marched into court chained hand-to-hand, they desperately attempted to hide their faces with scarves or their shirts, whatever was at hand. Family members grew angry at the sight of cameras, afraid that the faces of their sons or brothers would be broadcast on television and publicly identified.
In fact, they already had. Among all the various cases of police arresting Egyptian gay men, what makes this one particularly notable is how the police raid of the bathhouse, on Dec. 7, 2014, unfolded as television cameras rolled. 
An image from Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qahira wa al-Nas shows journalist Mona Iraqi, (rear, right) photographing men arrested during a police raid on a public bathhouse in Cairo
An image from Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qahira wa al-Nas shows journalist Mona Iraqi, (rear, right) photographing men arrested during a police raid on a public bathhouse in Cairo, December 2014.
The Egyptian journalist who organized that shoot, Mona Iraqi, described the bathhouse as "the biggest den of perversion in the heart of Cairo."
It was that context of intolerance that had tempered the expectations of defense lawyers and human rights activists observing the trial.
"There was no evidence," defense lawyer Islam Khalifa told CBS News on Monday. "But in this country there are always no expectations."
Activists and lawyers said it was the biggest case against the gay community since the infamous Queen Boat case of 2001, when police arrested 52 men on a Nile disco boat and accused them of "offending religion" and "debauchery."

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