Egypt is raiding its LGBTQ community after rainbow flags flew at a concert. And the West is silent.

Nov 15, 2017

A Mashrou' Leila concert in Cairo last month sparked a public outcry against Egypt's LGBTQ community and led to the country's widest anti-gay crackdown.

Fans waving rainbows flags at the concert became targets. Egyptian authorities have arrested at least 57 people in the escalated persecution of LGBTQ communities in Egypt.

The targets have had a range of identies: Members of the LGBTQ communites, allies to the LGBTQ community and others. Since the concert, at least five men have been subjected to anal examinations as part of the crackdown. So far, Western governments have been silent.

This recent crackdown is part of an Egyptian government and media attack on what they label public indecency and "debauchery." Although there are no laws that outlaw homosexuality in Egypt, conservative society has targeted gay men.

Since 2013, local police have used dating apps to identify and arrest gay men, lawyers say, in addition to raiding homes and parties.

The arrests following the concert have drawn considerable condemnation from human rights groups, and a plea from Mashrou' Leila for solidarity among activists and artists. 

Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American writer, has called the situation "hysterical homophobia” and explains that it is "the worst crackdown on the LGBTQ community in modern Egyptian history.” She says condemnation from the international community is a vital next step.

But “so many countries that claim to be beacons of human rights and civil liberties have been shamefully silent," she adds.

Hear more about the progression of the LGBTQ crackdown in Egypt in the audio, above.


From PRI's The World ©2017 PRI