Egypt launches its widest anti-gay crackdown yet

REUTERS – AHMED ABOULENEIN

Photo: Tahrir Square/ Keith Yahl

Sarah Hegazy has been jailed, beaten by inmates, and could face a life sentence in an Egyptian prison if found guilty of “promoting sexual deviancy” and other charges tied to her alleged crime: waving a rainbow flag at a concert.

The 28-year-old denies waving the flag but is one of 57 people arrested so far in Egypt’s widest anti-gay crackdown yet, a swift zero-tolerance response to a rare show of public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the conservative Muslim country.

The crackdown comes as Egypt, a key Western ally in the Middle East, is under fire for its human rights record and the United States has withheld some of its $1.3 billion in annual military aid.

Hegazy, the only woman rounded up in the three-week-old campaign, says police goaded her cellmates to abuse her during her first night in prison, where she is being detained for 15 days and interrogated by special prosecutors who usually focus on Islamist militants.

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