Homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt. But Egyptian authorities are cracking down on the LGBT community, its supporters, and advocates for social liberalization more broadly. In September, the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila played a concert to an audience of 30,000 in Cairo, led by openly-gay singer Hamed Sinno.
Latest in Egypt
Rebels and Regime Clash in Syria While Fighting Islamic State, Iraqi Forces Enter Mosul, and Washington Prepares for Sisi’s Visit
Russia Tries to Balance Turkey and Assad Regime in al-Bab and Geneva
Egypt has never been a welcoming place for civil society groups, but the past several years have seen an unrelenting crackdown on non-governmental organizations. It began with the infamous December 2011 raids on foreign democracy-building organizations and has endured through successive regimes. And yesterday, Egypt once again upped the ante.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on Markaz.
This post originally appeared on Markaz.
Despite continued reports of torture, harrowing tales of abuse in detention, and haunting anecdotes of forced disappearances, Egyptian authorities seem wholly unwilling to contend with the human rights violations that have long plagued the country’s security sector. Rather, authorities seem insistent to instead embark upon yet another wave of crackdown against civil society, taking measures to constrain the activities of the players who document, report, advocate, and litigate within the country’s anti-torture scene and even more broadly, the entire human rights movement.
When Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji was acquitted of “harming public morality” in January 2016, civil society and the artistic community rejoiced at the judiciary’s decision reinforcing the country’s constitutional commitment to freedom of artistic and literary creativity. The celebrations were premature.
Russia now says that it believes that ISIS was behind the crash of a commercial Russian aircraft, Metrojet 9268, over the Sinai desert on October 31 which killed the 224 people on board. Like the Paris attacks, the Metrojet bombing targeted civilian lives. And in the Russian case, those lives included 25 children. Russia has vowed to find and punish the terrorists responsible.
The other day, military prosecutors in Egypt opened an investigation into Hossam Bahgat, founder and previous director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and a (quite effective) investigative journalist.
Editor’s Note: The hopes for democracy in the Middle East that flourished after the Arab Spring are now gone. Hope for positive change, however, rests on many of democracy's building blocks, such as the rule of law, civil society, and a free press. These too remain under siege in many countries. Sarah Yerkes, a visiting fellow with us in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, details the troubling increase in media censorship in the Middle East and argues that such pressure is likely to backfire.