Last edited: February 14, 2005

Worldwide Protests Mark Start of Trial in Egypt

Al-Fatiha Foundation, August 16, 2001
Press Release

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 group’s 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 Egypt’s national flag carrier (Egypt Air). Activists bandaged in bloodied "Mummy" costumes depicting homophobia and police brutality handed out leaflets in the Philippines’ busy financial district.

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 Al-Fatiha.

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 International’s LGBT program in England.

In Atlanta (USA) the Atlanta chapter of Al-Fatiha together with Amnesty International’s 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 embassy’s 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 Mubarak.

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 Egypt.

Links of interest:

* Picture of Beginning of Trial

* Pictures of demonstrations in Manila, San Francisco, and Washington DC:

* Al-Hayat article

* Alquds-Alarabi article:

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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