Egyptian Men Sentenced for Gay Sex
Associated Press, November 14, 2001
By Sarah El Deeb
CAIRO, Egypt—Egyptian men wept and screamed inside
a crammed courtroom cage Wednesday as a judge sentenced 23 of them to jail
terms of one to five years for gay sex in a trial denounced by human rights
groups as persecution of homosexuals.
Another 29 men were acquitted, prompting cries of joy from relatives who
had denied the charges and accused the Egyptian media during the four-month
trial of sensationalism and destroying the young men’s reputations.
Only a few people were allowed into the courtroom to hear the verdicts, and
outside, police wielding sticks drove back a crowd of about 200 relatives,
lawyers, journalists and passers-by.
Crammed into a courtroom cage, the 52 defendants in white prison uniforms
wept and screamed as the presiding judge read out the sentences. Most of them
could not hear what sentence they received.
One defendant kissed the Quran, Islam’s holy book; another screamed at a
news cameraman. Most covered their faces, some with masks fashioned from
The presiding judge, Mohammed Abdel Karim, read his verdicts and sentences
quickly, ignoring the defendants’ shouts and chants from some relatives.
"We will appeal to God! He is our defender!" several relatives
When news of the sentences came in bits and pieces from people leaving the
court, one elderly woman joyfully distributed sweets and soft drinks, saying
she had heard her son was among those acquitted.
Another mother, upon hearing that her son had been convicted and sentenced
to two years, wept and said. "By God, my son has nothing to do with this.
He is straight."
The men were put on trial after police raided a Nile boat restaurant in May
and accused them of taking part in a gay sex party.
Homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal system,
but a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and public morality
are punishable by jail terms.
"Those convicted have either admitted (to homosexual activities) or
someone testified against them. Without testimonies, there was no
sentence," Fawzi el-Hagan, a lawyer representing a number of defendants,
Medical tests were also used as evidence against a number of defendants.
Sherif Farahat, believed to have been the group’s leader, received the
longest sentence—five years of hard labor for debauchery, contempt of
religion, falsely interpreting the Quran and exploiting Islam to promote
Mahmoud Ahmed Allam received three years on the religious charges, but was
acquitted of debauchery.
Twenty others were sentenced to two years and one man was sentenced to one
year for debauchery.
Scott Long, a director at the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian
Human Rights Commission, watched as the accused were escorted out of the
courtroom. "They were terrified, they were terrorized, they were trying
to hide their faces," he said.
Local and international human rights groups criticized the trial. Amnesty
International accused Egypt of persecuting people for their sexual orientation
and said the type of court, the Emergency State Security Court, was not
Judge Abdel Karim told Associated Press Television News that the case was
tried before his court because the defendants endangered "national
Emergency state security courts verdicts can only be appealed to the
Speaking on condition that he not be named for fear of persecution, one gay
Egyptian who had followed the trial said it was a fake.
Among those arrested in the same case was a teen-ager who was tried
separately and convicted and sentenced in September to three years’ in
prison. The boy is appealing the verdict in a juvenile court.
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