Anti-Terror Drive Threatens Cairo Prisoners
September 25, 2001
NEW YORK International gay civil rights advocates
are expressing their concern that rising tensions in the Middle East and Asia
will adversely impact the fate of the 52 men detained in Egypt because of
their presumed homosexuality.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) issued a
statement saying that the fall off in media attention to the situation in
Egypt and the easing of international pressure as the U.S. and Europe seek to
secure cooperation in their anti-terrorism efforts will allow the government
of Egypt to continue to punish the Cairo-52 unchallenged.
"The war on terrorism is seen in parts of the Middle East as an
attack on Islam. The government of Egypt, trying to appease the religious
rights opposition to Egypts participation in such a war, is ready
to sacrifice the rights of its own homosexual population," IGLHRCs
Surina Khan said in a statement.
One of the defendants, a 15-year old youth, has already received the
maximum penalty allowed by law, three years in prison followed by three years
of probation. Lawyers and trial observers expect the other detainees to get
heavy sentences as well. Some of the imprisoned men have told reporters and
families that they have been continuously tortured in jail.
"We are concerned that the United States will forsake human rights
consideration as it tries to forge its world-wide coalition," said Scott
Long, IGLHRCs Program Director. "If this happens, the US Government
will have not only abandoned the Cairo-52 to an unfair and lengthy prison stay
but it will also betray the very values it has sworn to defend."
"The Egyptian government is using this moment to seal the fate of the
Cairo-52, knowing that its actions will go unchallenged by the worlds
The trial, which has drawn the condemnation of international human rights
groups and objections from the West, followed a May 11 government raid on the
Queen Boat nightclub, once a popular gay club in central Cairo. Those arrested
were charged with "obscene behavior" and "contempt of
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