Following imprisonment, abuse and torture in Egypt, LGBTIQ+ rights advocate Sara Hegazy sought asylum in Canada. Sadly, she died in her home in Canada Sunday, leaving a note asking her family and friends for forgiveness.
In 2017, Sara attended a concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo. The band’s lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay and the band often face controversy, bans and cancellations because of their advocacy for queer rights.
Although homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Egypt, LGBTIQ+ people face constant discrimination and worse from their government, their society and the police. Police frequently arrest gay men for blasphemy, debauchery, and also undefined immorality.
During the 2017 concert, Sara Hegazy and seven other fans of Mashrou’ Leila unfurled rainbow flags.
Firstly, Police arrested a man who raised the flag during the concert on his way home. Charged with ‘practicing debauchery’, he received a sentence of six years in jail.
Promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery
A public prosecutor later ordered the security forces to investigate who else displayed the flag at the concert. They then arrested dozens of concert-goers including Sara. Charged with ‘promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery’, Sara consequently spent three months in prison. Another victim of the senseless vendetta faced a charge of ‘joining a group formed in contrary to the law’.
Sara and Ahmed are revolutionaries: two gay #Egyptians who said “I count. I exist.” They were jailed for raising a rainbow pride flag at a @mashrou3leila concert in #Egypt in 2017 and now live in asylum in #Canada. And have no regrets. pic.twitter.com/smG5WrJogi #LGBTQ 🏳️🌈
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 24, 2018
Following her release on bail, Sara suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the mistreatment during her imprisonment. Then, after a failed suicide attempt, she sought asylum in Canada.
Waving. A. Flag.
This is how we destroy young bright people in the Arab region. We imprison them,
We muzzle them, Till we leave them hopeless helpless futureless.
I’m heartbroken. Inconsolable.
Rest in peace butterfly 🌈#SaraHegazy #LGBTQRights #PrideMonth pic.twitter.com/y1qgdjWGGI
— E M E L آمال مثلوثي (@MathlouthiEmel) June 15, 2020
Before her death, Sara composed a handwritten note asking family and friends for forgiveness.
“To my siblings, I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me.
“To my friends, the experience was harsh and I am too weak to resist it, forgive me.”
She then finished on a heartbreaking note of forgiveness for her tormentors.
“To the world – you were cruel to a great extent, but I forgive.”
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