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Two arrested for waving rainbow flag in Egypt are released on bail

Joseph McCormick January 2, 2018
Mashrou' Leila

A picture taken of the band on the night of the gig (Photo by مشروع ليلى Mashrou' Leila/Facebook)

Two people arrested in Egypt for waving a rainbow flag at a music concert have been released on bail.

In September last year, the waving of a rainbow flag at a music concert was extensively derided in the press – leading to a dramatic crackdown.

Two of the people arrested at the time, Sarah Hegazy, 28, and Ahmed Alaa, 21, have been fined and released, according to a lawyer from the Arabic Network for Human Rights.

A Pride flag at Mashrou Leila's concert
A Pride flag at Mashrou Leila’s concert

The lawyer, Amr Mohamed, said the pair were each fined 2,000 Egyptian pounds, around $113.

According to tweets from the Network, it is not clear when the trial may resume.

The pair were two of dozens arrested amid an anti-LGBT crackdown in Egypt last year.

They were photographed at a concert on 22 September by Mashrou’ Leila which saw 30,000 fans turn out.

Eight Egyptian men on trial for doing a video prosecutors claimed was of a gay wedding hide their identities as they sit in the defendent's cage during their trial in Cairo on November 1, 2014. The video, filmed aboard a Nile riverboat, shows what prosecutors said was a gay wedding ceremony, with two men in the centre kissing, exchanging rings and cutting a cake with their picture on it. The Egyptian court jailed the eight men for three years. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

A small number of concert-goers held up a rainbow flag at the Lebanese band’s performance.

Related: Egypt bans the media from mentioning gay people as homophobic purge continues

A report released late last year by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights charts the horrific extent of the crisis.

It says: “The EIPR has observed an exponential increase in the number of individuals arrested because of their private sexual practices and/or sexual orientation.

“In what is now known as the as the Public Morality Investigation Unit’s campaign against LGBTQ individuals and men who have sex with men or those perceived as such.”

Data available up until March 2017 shows that arrests have drastically risen in the past few years.

Defendants react behind the bars at a court in Cairo following the acquittal on January 12, 2015 of 26 male men accused of "debauchery" after they were arrested in a night-time raid on a bathhouse in the Egyptian capital last month that triggered international concern. The men were arrested on December 7 in the raid on a hammam in the Azbakeya district of Cairo, amid fears of a widening police crackdown on homosexuals in Egypt even though Egyptian law does not expressly ban homosexuality. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

EIPR estimates based on media monitoring that 232 people were arrested between the end of 2013 and March 2017.

The report alleges that morality police were also responsible for fuelling negative stories about LGBT people in order to stoke public fear, manufacturing “the creation of major sex scandals that receive exceptional media attention”.

Late in 2017, the country announced a bid to ban atheism in the hopes that it will stop people from “turning” gay.

More: Africa, Egypt

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