Egypt’s Gay Crackdown Part Of Larger Trend

There’s a war brewing in the Middle East – and we’re not talking about Iraq.

The Egyptian government continues to draw fire for jailing five HIV positive men earlier this year. One hundred and seventeen international human and gay rights groups have penned a collective letter to the nation’s top brass demanding an immediate release of the prisoners, who were nabbed as part of a recently launched crackdown sweeping the nation. The men were then given HIV tests and, once the tests came out positive, were told by a prosecutor, “People like you should be burnt alive. You do not deserve to live.”

The activists letter takes a firm stand not only against such illegal tactics, but Egypt’s “complicit” health officials:

We write you urgently to voice concern over the arrest and trial of men in Egypt for alleged homosexual conduct, apparently based on men’s suspected HIV serostatus. We are concerned that medical personnel may have been complicit, or actively participated, in acts violating the international norm prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We are further concerned that the Ministry’s involvement with the detention and interrogation of suspects in these cases condones or gives credit to myths about HIV/AIDS, in a way that is incompatible with the Ministry’s public health responsibilities and can only contribute to the epidemic’s spread.

HIV may not be the only epidemic spreading through “liberal” Middle Eastern nations.

Though homosexuality isn’t technically illegal in Egypt, police have been cracking down, some say, to appease religious leaders. Journalist Hani Shukrallah tells Bloomberg’s Daniel Williams: “Meaningless crackdowns have become a regular thing. If not gays, devil worshippers. If not devil worshippers, apostates. The government needs to outbid Islamic opponents as guardian of morals.” Egypt’s not alone in its crackdowns, of course. Morocco caused a stir last year when it arrested six men at an alleged “gay wedding,” while Kuwait passed a law outlawing “imitating” the opposite gender. That law helped net over a dozen arrests.

In an effort to assert their authority, these governments, doctors and other administrative leaders are overzealously marginalizing the homos. And, quite frankly, it’s sickening. Where, we wonder, are the United States’ leaders during all of this? Oh, right – in Iraq…


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  • Paul Raposo

    Islamofacism is going to destroy the world. They won’t be happy until we’re all converted, or dead.

  • Shabaka

    Sickening!! I hope you’re wrong,Paul!

  • M Shane

    I’ve gotten very familiar with my neighborhood grociers who are from Eqypt and Kuwait. As has happened most of the past century in other parts of the world, the U.S installs or supports dictatorships in which a very few people make off with all of the assets and persecute the people in every wat concievable. In any of these countries what happens never has to do with the people. They are just struggling to eat.

    A more important fact about Egypt right now is if you read the news is that they are having severe bread riots across the countrty. People are far from concrened about homosexuality.
    That is insane U.S. induced anti-islamic propaganda.

    That’s so comical about Morroco: that’s where a large portion of the reported cases of people who disappear and have suffered extreme rendition are sent (they are kidnaped and sent to be tortured by the U.S.)This is around 5000 people now.

    Iraq under Sadam was a much much better place than it is now or will ever be again. Over a million citizens have died. They still don’t have water or toilets, although Halburton, Bechtel, etc have ripped off almost $ 300 billion in American taxes a year. War is a bigger U.S Industry than Hollywood, apart from the oil even. The U.S, Government will do everything possible to create an anti-Islamic
    prejudice .
    Which has nothing to do with the people but with our installed leaders.
    We had better get real about what American corporations are doing to rip apart an innocent people, while tyrants create the impression that it is all moslems. All the people want is peace and food. Everyone there is persecuted for the benefit of Western industry.

  • emb

    The islamic nations are just previews of coming attractions for this country: as the economy weakens, as xenophobia worsens, the christian right will be more appealing with its simple and gratifyingly lowest-common-denominator answers to complex, frightening problems. The islamofascists and the christofascists have way more in common than even they recognize. Our greatest threat in the US is not from muslim nutballs, but from christian theocons.

  • hisurfer

    I think M Shane nailed it.

    I visited Egypt this past December, and was shocked. First, Paul: Egypt is not an Islamo-fascist state. Not by a long shot, nor by any definition. It’s a nasty, corrupt, old-fashioned, mafia-style police state. The government oppresses everyone – the poor, the middle class, fags, and Muslims. It felt ready to explode to me. After the explosion? Yeah, I think Egypt will be at risk of becoming an Islamic dictatorship – mostly because the government has so effectively crushed all other opposition.

    It’s a strange country. I met people who’s mothers used to wear mini skirts and stroll along the Nile in the 1960’s. Now, they are afraid to leave the house without the hijab. People are reacting to the pressures by becoming more and more oppressively conservative.

    For now, Egypt jails Muslims. It fears them. And the US won’t do anything, because, you know, Mubarek is an ally against terrorism. Or something like that.

    As an aside: I don’t think I’ve ever been propositioned more than in upper Egypt. It got surreal – literally I’d have explicit invitations a couple dozen times an evening in Aswan. Surreal, and honestly a bit disturbing.

  • M Shane

    EMB, you’re on the money! Not just because of proximity. The Islamofascists are not moslems as a whole, just the crazy leaders.
    Here in America the Christian homophobs are the rank and file illiterate bastards who spread thier slim all over and are literally unified by hate.

  • M Shane

    BTW, isn’t it kind of strange how the “prisoners are dressed up in white shirts–which people in the street don’t even wear, and how they have those funny white halloween masks on , with the eyes cut out.;they’re shaved and have fresh haircuts.? Publicity?

  • Egyptiangirl

    I completely agree with Mshane and EMB, I am from Egypt so is my family and my husband currently lives there. The are just poor people struggling to eat and survive when it comes all down to it. And there is soo much propoganda in the air trying to scare everyone. But look at US, ban on gay marriage, they are discriminated all the time here by every kind of person, Christian, Muslim, Jews. But because of all the propoganda and all the Muslims leaders, everyone is suspect of them. Its truly unfair. The world has saddened me, the cruelty, the discrimination, the use of religion to scare people. Religion is suppose to bring us together. Not separate, Instead of skin color, the fear has shifted to sexuality and religion.

  • M Shane

    It is more sad and horrible than most people can even imagine, Egyptiangirl, the propaganda is built to justify more terror in the Middle East , more opression and Economic control.

    With the help of the CIA & U,S arms, the same thing happened in So. America from through 1950 until present in Chile, Brazile, Equador, Peru, Uruguey , Bolivia etc etc. to gain control for American Companies. These are the horrible dictatorships which tortured people and ‘disappeared’ people. My Egyptian friend was describing how theynow torture common people, for no reason.

    I’m really glad to hear that someone shares my belief, EMB, that it is happening here in the U.S. as well and gay people are the scapegoats as will be Middle Easterners.

    Democracies cannot live in such places, it always leads to dictatorship.

  • CitizenGeek

    As much as I dislike extreme Christianty, it’s never, EVER as bad as extreme Islam. I find Islam to be one of the most appallingly backward of all the world’s religions; it’s what’s holding the middle east back, I think.

    Jailing men with HIV, simply for having a dangerous disease (you -can-, and in fact most people in the world do, contract HIV through heterosexual sex; if only Egypt knew this) is unimaginably cruel. The sooner Arabs get sick and tired of Islam, the better!

  • emb

    CitizenGeek: While I agree with you on all points about the negative impact of extreme islam on the middle east (and frankly, on europe as well these days), I don’t think the christians should get a pass just because they haven’t had their turn at bat yet. Sure, the fundies haven’t chopped off any hands lately, but through word and action they have made clear the kind of society they would value if they ever got their hands on sufficient power. Just because they haven’t yet, doesn’t make them less of a threat. In practice, a christian theocracy could be just as bad as an islamic one.

  • M Shane

    There is no question that the worst atrosities the most cruelty in the worlds history have been committed at the name of Christianity. Go back to the Inquesition, all over Europe, the religious wars in England and elsewhere.
    The Holocaust was a by product of Christian identity (an association which most people chose to neglect).
    In Christianity’s first invasion of the Middle East , the first crusade,the christian soldiers
    killed and cut up every Moslem or Jew or in the walls of Jerusalem: According to first hand descriptions,it was impossible even to traverse from one point to another as the blood was thigh deep and prevented walking.
    When Saladin (one of history’s most honorable leaders ) won the city back he allowed the remaining Christians protected passage to the sea and Europe.
    Nearly the Entire European Imperialist venture to the Americas and East was justified by Chirstian zeal. Christopher Columbus and party whiped out the entire Arowack nation of American Indians; all 350,000 of them in 50 years.
    Radical Islamism Wahibism never arrived on the scene except as a response to western atrosities. We installed Dictators like Sadam, and he never killed as many people as we have. Indeed the people lived in peace.
    Anyone who troubles to read the Koran knows that it teaches peace, forbearance, and mercy. get to know some normal people from the middle east, and then tell me how horrible they are. Get past the propaganda.

  • Brian

    I hope I am not alive when this religion conquers the world. They want to take the world back to the stone age.

  • Jaroslaw

    M Shane, EMB, EgyptianGirl et al – good points all around. Fascism is fascism, dictator same. But let’s not start talking about which religion committed the most atrocities. I don’t think we will ever know all or most of what happened or happens in the world. History can be read selectively but even then – only sources available to YOU are not all of history. I mean do you think everyone kept records? Mohammed didn’t politely ask everyone to convert to Islam – for only ONE example…. And it is hard to believe Christianity is the worst, when people living in Christian countries have the highest standards of living and everyone I know who travels the world says women in Christian countries have it the best. So there is a disconnect here for me.

  • M Shane

    Jaroslaw ; the disconnect can be pretty easily explained. It is both coincidental, in that moslems lived in countries which had few resources. Secondly and even important, while traditional Moslems lived side by side with Jews, Chistian sects and Yazdani faiths(Kurds) mch of the time.
    Most Chistian countries developed because of Colonialism: stealing resources from other countries throughout most of the world.

    Think of all the things which come from other parts of the world by companies which wealthy americans or Europeans own. The doctrine central to christian teaching has to do with spreading the word which had more to do with greed.

    I think that It’s worthwhile to consider that our wealthy even have most of our labor done in other countries.

  • M Shane

    p.s. it would, as you say be erroneous to claim that there was no war making between the people of the Middle East .Some of Turks were incredibly nasty, It is interesting that the Moslems didn’t make the kind of strides that christians made in the Crusades.

    I think that the point you may be making despite what you say is that there is a correlation between Christainity and exploitation. You have to remember that a great deal of the first medicine, science, math,
    etc happened in Eqypt. and the middle East.

    One of the Greaest saddnesses of Bushes invasion of Iraq is that because of orders by Rumsfield all of Civilizations oldest treasures, which were in the Iraqi Museum have been looted. The same happened with Egypt. remember the pyramids etc. We forget that we owe much of the greatest knowlege and culture to the Middle east. Of course now it’s being crushed for the last oil.

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