Last edited: February 14, 2005

Egypt Frees One Man, Jails Two Others / Network, December 19, 2001

By Tom Musbach

Summary: An alleged gay Egyptian teen had his jail sentence reduced, just a day after two other men were sentenced to a year each.

An Egyptian teen who had been sentenced to three years in prison for presumed homosexuality had his jail sentence reduced to six months on Wednesday, just a day after two other men were sentenced to a year each for soliciting gay sex on the Internet.

The 16-year-old Mahmoud Abdel-Fatah Ibrahim, who has been jailed since May 11, will be released from prison this week and begin serving six months of probation. He had been sentenced to three years for "debauchery."

Judge Mostafa Rashad, who presided over Ibrahim’s appeal, cited youth as a factor in reducing the sentence.

"The child by nature is ignorant, with no religious restraint, and does not know his interests," the judge said. "This is why the court saw to a great reduction in his sentence."

Scott Long, program director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign (IGLHRC), called the ruling a "tremendous victory."

"Maybe the Egyptian government is starting to get the message," he added, "that the arrest and torture of people for their presumed homosexuality must stop."

The youth’s arrest was part of a roundup of 52 other suspected gay men in May. Twenty-three of those men have been sentenced from one to five years in jail after a trial that lasted four months and brought outcries from international rights groups.

The 23 men cannot appeal their convictions, which must be approved, reduced or rejected by President Hosni Mubarak. According to the Associated Press, Mubarak has not yet acted on the rulings.

On Tuesday, a Cairo court convicted Sherif Abu Bakr and Mohammed al-Sawi, both university students in their early 20s, of publishing indecent photos of themselves on the Web and offering sexual services, according to an Agence France-Press news report.

The two students, who received year-long prison terms, were reportedly arrested in late October when they attempted to meet a rich "client" who turned out to be an undercover policeman.

Homosexuality is not expressly illegal in Egypt, but it is considered taboo and immoral.

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