Last edited: February 14, 2005

Anti-Terror Drive Threatens Cairo Prisoners

Datalounge, 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 right’s opposition to Egypt’s participation in such a ‘war,’ is ready to sacrifice the rights of its own homosexual population," IGLHRC’s 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, IGLHRC’s 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 world’s public opinion."

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 religion."

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