Egyptian Activist Arrested for Raising Rainbow Flag at Concert Dies by Suicide

An LGBTQ rights activist from Egypt who was arrested for raising a rainbow flag during a 2017 concert died by suicide on Sunday.

Al-Jazeera reports Sara Hegazy, 30, died at her home in Canada.

Egyptian authorities in September 2017 arrested Hegazy after she raised a rainbow flag during a Cairo concert that featured Mashrou'Leila, a Lebanese rock band whose lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay.

Al-Jazeera reported Hegazy was charged with "promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery." Independent Egyptian media outlets noted Hegazy was charged with "joining outlawed groups that aim to disrupt the provisions of the constitution of law."

Hegazy was tortured in prison before an Egyptian court in January 2018 ordered her release on bail. Hegazy later asked for asylum in Canada.

Sinno on Monday posted a lengthy tribute to Hegazy on his Facebook page.

"We spend the first part of our lives demanding air in our homelands, and then we leave to countries where we are promised air, only to find out we were robbed of lungs," said Sinno. "Continuing to not address the structural inequality that produces this much suffering is a crime. We might not actively be contributing to it, but we actively benefit from it. That too is murder."

Ahmed Hafez, an Egyptian LGBTQ activist who now lives in D.C., also paid tribute to Hegazy.

"For your soul Sarah Hegazy, may you rest in power, a soul that was list (sic) on Pride month," wrote Hafez. "You will always be lived and one day, we will have a statue of you in the heart of Cairo."

Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-born feminist and author who lives in New York, also honored Hegazy on her social media networks.

Ahmed el-Hady, an Egyptian queer activist who lives in the U.S., on Tuesday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that Hegazy's "legacy will be as someone who fought for the rights of all Egyptians, not only the queers."

"She was inspiring in her life and after her death," said el-Hady.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David on Tuesday in a statement said Hegazy "was living her truth in a country where LGBTQ people are routinely arrested and imprisoned." David also noted Hegazy fled Egypt after her arrest.

"But even after escaping from Egypt, the wounds of her persecution persisted and now she is gone," said David. "Sarah deserved more; we must demand accountability from all world leaders that place their LGBTQ communities in danger and work towards a world where it is never legal to imprison someone simply for being who they are. My thoughts are with Sarah's friends and family at this devastating time."

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.


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