Last edited: October 25, 2003

Statistics on Gay Arrests in Egypt

Al-Fatiha, September 26, 2003
PO Box 33532, Washington, DC 20033

Sent to Al-Fatiha from a contact in Egypt

Note: Wissam Abyad, mentioned in the message below is a Lebanese citizen, who was arrested in January 2003. It will never be known how many people have really been arrested, especially since the government of Egypt has banned the press from writing stories about the crackdown of suspected gay men, in light of international pressure.

As Wissam sits, still in Prison, and seemingly denied the justice of an upcoming Presidential Pardon on the 6 of October, I felt that sharing some numbers with you on the extent of the persecution of gay men in Cairo to date would provide a good backdrop for yet another date of injustice against Wissam.

In January of 2001, 52 men were arrested in a now infamous raid on the Nile disco, the Queen Boat. These men continue to capture the public attention due to the blatant abuse this arrest showed on the part of the Egyptian authorities. 14 of these men have had their sentences reduced, but continue to serve “probation” in Egyptian police stations every night of the week for one full year from 6pm to 6am. Remember, these men were physically abused, tortured, and verbally abused by these same police.

Since then, more than 40 young men have been contacted, lured to a meeting, and entrapped by undercover police using the Internet. There have been more than 40 certainly, but 40 is the number which have been documented by local Egyptian human rights organizations in person. Since 2001, young Egyptian men have used the Internet as a replacement meeting place in the environment of fear and repression in Egypt which has been fostered by the Egyptian Authorities, despite appeals from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the US Embassy, the European Parliament, and other International organizations.

In 2003, since Wissam’s arrest in January, there have been 15 documented cases of Internet entrapment in which 21 victims have been arrested and tried for fabricated charges of habitual debauchery and solicitation, as if they were common prostitutes. There have been a total of 25 documented cases of involving 62 victims—these are not the total number of actual cases of abuse and persecution of gay men in Egypt; these are merely the numbers of documented cases, where individuals have asked for help, or have been interviewed by human rights advocates.

Four victims in 2003 have been foreigners, like Wissam. Three Lebanese and one Arab-Israeli. The other 2 Lebanese citizens and the Arab-Israeli were acquitted on appeal, and all have been illegally deported by the Egyptian Authorities.

Most victims are released on appeal after being charged and sentenced to 3-5 years in prison. This is usually a cycle of 4-6 weeks, in which the victim loses their job or is out of university too long to continue the semester, they are verbally and potentially physically abused by police, prison officials, and been held in cells with thieves, rapists, and other real criminals. In many cases they have had their heads shaved by the Egyptian authorities and forced to dress in prison clothing which awaiting their appeal.

Wissam has been in contact with several other victims of various methods of gay persecution in Egypt through his travels through the Egyptian prison system. He was held in the horrible conditions of the Cairo appeals jail with 8 young men who were arrested in Aguza, Cairo, in an entrapment case involving police raiding a private party. He also was in the Cairo appeals jail with 12 young men who were arrested in Giza, Cairo, in a nefarious case in which the police forced a gay man to call his friends one by one and arrested them at his front door.

In Wissam’s case, he was arrested on January 16th, 2003, after being entrapped by a policeman posing as a Spanish citizen new to Cairo. He was charged with habitual debauchery and sentenced to 15 months in an Egyptian prison. His appeal was on February 17th, 2003, in which a panel of 3 senior judges, 2 of whom have benefited from USAID funding to learn English for human rights, and been sent on a study tour to the USA on the American legal system, all upheld his sentence with total and blatant disregard for the lack of evidence to support the charges. In the words of the senior judge on the panel, Yasser El-Ziat, as reported by the secretary recording their decision to uphold Wissam’s sentence, “if he was chatting on the Internet then he must be gay and should go to prison.” Our request for a suspended sentence was denied by this same judge in May, in a rescheduled sentence as he insisted on bringing Wissam into the court so that he could deny him a suspended sentence in person.

Wissam is the only victim in 2003 who remains in Prison and denied justice. He was being considered for a Presidential Pardon on 6th of October, a yearly event in Egypt in which the President pardons petty criminals with short sentences. In our enquiries this week, it seems Wissam has not been included in this Pardon, even though he meets the criteria and was told from the day he was taken in to the Prison that he would be processed for release on the Pardon of 6th of October.

This is the 4th time in 2003 that Wissam has been denied justice and fair treatment for release. He continues to languish in Prison, serving an unjust sentence, denied freedom 3 times already by the bigotry and cruelty of Egyptian officials. The Prosecutor General, the Minister of Justice and the President of Egypt continue to ignore requests by international organizations, human rights advocates, foreign governments, and thousands of individuals around the world for Wissam’s freedom.

When will Egypt demonstrate fairness, justice, and moderation which they claim to represent in the Middle East? When will Wissam have justice and his freedom?

Thank you for your continued support of Wissam, and your continued pressure on the Egyptian government to free Wissam immediately and stop this repression and abuse of Gay men in Egypt.

Al-Fatiha Foundation is dedicated to Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, those exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their allies, families and friends. Al-Fatiha promotes the progressive Islamic notions of peace, equality and justice. We envision a world that is free from prejudice, injustice and discrimination, where all people are fully embraced and accepted into their faith, their families and their communities. Founded in 1998, Al-Fatiha Foundation is a registered US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization.

Al-Fatiha Foundation is a member of an international grassroots network of organizations dedicated to Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, those exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity, and other sexual and gender minorities.

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