Worldwide Protests Mark Start of Trial in Egypt
August 16, 2001
Contact: Faisal Alam
Founder & Director
US Cell: 202-390-5305
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful
"We have successfully sent a message to the Egyptian government that
LGBT Muslims and LGBT Arabs around the world are watching its actions."Faisal
Alam, Founder & Director of Al-Fatiha
Thousands of people around the world stood in solidarity on August 15 by
protesting recent government crackdowns on the gay community in Egypt.
August 15 marked the first day of the trial of 52 men arrested in late May
because of their alleged sexual orientation. The men have been reportedly
tortured and abused by police in prison.
The two main defendants stand accused of "exploiting the Islamic
religion to spread extremist ideas." They are also accused of practicing
gay sex "as part of the groups rituals in front of the remaining
defendants and others with the aim of insulting the heavenly religions and
sparking civil strife." The remaining defendants are charged with
"practicing debauchery with men." If convicted, they could face
five-year jail sentences.
Al-Fatiha, an international organization dedicated to Muslims who are
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) had recently
declared August 15 an International Day of Solidarity and Mourning.
On August 15 hundreds of people joined in demonstrations in cities around
the world to protest the detention of the 52 men.
In Washington DC (USA) more than 100 people protested in front of the
Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau. With signs that read "Free the
Cairo 52" and "Justice in Egypt NOW" protesters demanded the
immediate release of the 52 detained men. Representatives of Al-Fatiha
Washington DC, Amnesty International USA, and the Sexual Minority Youth
Assistance League spoke at the event.
In Manila (Philippines), the Progressive Organization for Gays organized a
picket and demonstration in front of Egypts national flag carrier (Egypt
Air). Activists bandaged in bloodied "Mummy" costumes depicting
homophobia and police brutality handed out leaflets in the Philippines busy
In Stockholm (Sweden) the demonstration in support of the 52 Egyptian men
was organized by The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Rights (RFSL), and supported by the Swedish Amnesty International
section. The demonstration took place in front of the Egyptian embassy at
Strandvägen in central Stockholm. There were 30 to 40 participants.
Demonstrators were joined by a member of parliament as well as representatives
of other political organizations and gay and lesbian groups.
In San Francisco (USA) a demonstration in front of the Egyptian consulate
drew about 50 people from around the San Francisco Bay Area. Representatives
from various endorsing organizations spoke out against the Egyptian
government. The protest was organized by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of
In New York City (USA) about 100 people demonstrated outside the Egyptian
consulate. Members of the city council as well members of the US Congress
representing New York voiced their support for the demonstrations by sending
representatives to the demonstration. Speakers included members of the Gay and
Lesbian Arab Society, Al-Fatiha New York City, and Amnesty International
OUTfront. At the end of the demonstration protesters attempted to deliver 52
letters signed by endorsing organizations to the Egyptian consulate.
In London (United Kingdom) about 25 people held a demonstration in front of
the Egyptian embassy. The demonstration was organized by members of Al-Fatiha
UK with the support of Amnesty Internationals LGBT program in England.
In Atlanta (USA) the Atlanta chapter of Al-Fatiha together with Amnesty
Internationals Southern Regional Office organized a panel discussion on
issues facing the LGBT Muslim and LGBT Arab community.
In Antwerp (Belgium) Het Roze Huis (The Pink House) and Amnesty
International Flanders organized an action in solidarity with the 52 Egyptians
on trial. They sent about 50 letters to the Egyptian ambassador in Belgium. A
symbolic banner using the rainbow flag was also made. The action in Belgium
received news coverage in mainstream media as well as the LGBT press.
In Bucharest (Romania) members of ACCEPT (the LGBT national organization in
Romania) attempted to hand deliver a letter to the Egyptian ambassador to
Bucharest. ACCEPT also endorsed the Al-Fatiha call to action.
Reports have not come in from Uganda, Austria, or Switzerland where
demonstrations were also being planned. Berlin (Germany), Canberra
(Australia), and Paris (France) were unable to hold demonstrations on August
15 but representatives of many LGBT organizations in those cities supported
the international day of action.
In addition to the many demonstrations and protests that took place around
the world thousands of people and hundreds of organizations flooded the
Egyptian government with phone calls, faxes, and emails.
Reports indicate that the Egyptian government was overwhelmed with emails,
phone calls and faxes. Emails were bouncing most of the day on August 15 and
the Egyptian embassys web site in the United States was no longer active on
the day of the protests.
The International Day of Solidarity was endorsed by more than 60
organizations in 15 countries and five continents. The world-wide coalition of
organizations that endorsed the event included LGBT organizations, religious
and faith-based groups, international human rights organizations, national
political organizations, LGBT youth-serving agencies and LGBT Arab, South
Asian, Latino, African-American, and Asian/Pacific Islander organizations.
Speaking about the success of the international day of solidarity and
mourning, Faisal Alam, Founder & Director of Al-Fatiha said, "We have
successfully sent a message to the Egyptian government that LGBT Muslims, LGBT
Arabs, the international LGBT community, and people of conscience around the
world are watching its actions." He continued by saying that "Not
one day will go by without our community remembering that 52 of our brothers
are in prison. We will not rest until they are released."
Al-Fatiha has called for continued pressure on the Egyptian government and
demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the detained men. In
addition Al-Fatiha called on the Egyptian government to uphold international
human rights standards for its citizens regardless of their gender, religious
ideology, or sexual orientation.
Many prominent political leaders around the world have condemned the
detention of the 52 men in Egypt. Nine members of parliament in Germany signed
a letter of protest to be sent to the Egyptian government. In the United
States, 35 members of Congress sent a stern letter to Egyptian President Hosni
The trial, the protests and the demonstrations have been covered by media
around the world including the mainstream Arab press. A front page article
appeared in the August 15 issue of Al-Hayat, a world-wide pan-Arab daily
newspaper. The August 16 issue of Al Nahar, a Beirut (Lebanon) premier
newspaper and the Alquds-Alarabi both covered the beginning of the trial in
Links of interest:
* Picture of Beginning of Trial http://groups.yahoo.com/group/al-fatiha-news/files
* Pictures of demonstrations in Manila, San Francisco, and Washington DC: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/al-fatiha-news/files
* Al-Hayat article
* Alquds-Alarabi article: http://www.alquds.co.uk
Al-Fatiha is an international organization dedicated to Muslims who are
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, those questioning their sexual
orientation or gender identity, and their Friends.
Protest in Washington, DC
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