A special court Egypt had set up to prosecute terrorists sentenced instead 23 Cairo men for allegedly being gay.
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Special police officers rush some of 52 alleged gay men on trial into court in Cairo, Egypt. Nov.14, 2001. Philip Mark
by Ana Simo
NOVEMBER 15, 2001. The Egyptian government of President Hosni Mubarak capitulated even further to Islamic fundamentalists yesterday when a special court it had set up to prosecute terrorists sentenced instead 23 Cairo men for allegedly being gay. The sentences of up to five years of hard labor cannot be appealed.
The men were among 52 patrons of the gay-friendly Cairo floating club, Queen Boat, arrested at a raid in May and detained since then in Tora prison, south of Cairo. Some of the men say they were beaten and tortured while in jail.
The remaining 29 men were acquitted, although they are still being held because the government prosecutor can appeal their acquittal. Even if they are ultimately released, their lives may never be the same, and there is concern for their safety. Many had their names, photos, and details of their lives published in Egypt's government-controlled media, which condemned them even before the trial started.
The official media's lurid, frenzied hate campaign against the defendants, and gay people in general, was a transparent bid by the Mubarak regime not just to curry favor with local Islamic fundamentalists, whose violent wing it has brutally repressed for years, but to divert attention from its own failings, including endemic corruption, human rights violations, and economic incompetence.
The United States has backed and kept in power the Mubarak regime for the past 20 years, writing it an annual check of $2 billion, mostly in military aid. The reason for Washington's largesse is the 'moderate' reputation of the regime, a moderation measured only in relation to its position regarding Israel.
The moderate reputation was largely acquired during the tenure of President Anwar Sadat, assassinated by Islamic extremists in 1981 for signing the Camp David peace agreements with Israel. There is nothing 'moderate' about his authoritarian successor.
Mubarak's gutting of Egypt's secularism features book burning, the imprisonment of journalists or sociologists like Saad Eddin Ibrahim, gay witch-hunts, and cheap, opportunistic anti-Americanism. Biting the hand that feeds him, Mubarak crony, Ibrahim Nafi, editor of the government-controlled daily Al Ahram, recently claimed that the food the U.S. was dropping in Afghanistan was poisoned.
For Egyptian Men Sentenced for Gay Sex, Sarah El Deeb's vivid account of the trial verdict (AP).
For The Chicago Tribune's first hand account of the trial.
For Egyptian journalist Mona Eltawany's clear-eyed view of Egypt today (The Washington Post)
For GayEgypt.com, the only surviving Egyptian gay website (it's based in London).
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