How Sisi’s Regime Is Ruthlessly Targeting Egypt’s Queer Community

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02/27/2023

Egypt’s revolution in 2011 began on Jan. 25, a date chosen by young Egyptians to coincide with the annual Police Day as a revolt against increasing police brutality under then-President Hosni Mubarak. The 18-day uprising led to Mubarak’s ouster after nearly 30 years in power and ushered in a brief era when Egyptians could revel in an expanding space for freedom of expression. The spirit of progress and possibility was palpable—a heartbeat felt throughout Egypt, including among some of the most marginalized in society: queer Egyptians. Today, many Egyptians feel like they can’t breathe. They are suffocating under a brutal crackdown on NGOs, independent media and any alternative voices challenging the status quo. Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power in a coup in 2013, waves of mass arrests in Egypt have targeted journalists, human rights lawyers, academics and the LGBTQ+ community. No one really knows how many political prisoners there are in Egypt, though credible estimates from human rights organizations say it is at least 65,000. Sisi’s scale of repression did not emerge from nowhere. Having grown up in Egypt for almost a decade in the 1990s, I’ve witnessed first-hand how pervasive the patriarchy is and how it is weaponized to oppress minorities and marginalized groups.

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