By Omar Halawa and Hanan Fayed
CAIRO: A Tuesday video of an allegedly gay man has gone viral on social media, where he is seen apprehended and slapped by a group of men on Giza’s famous street Gameat el-Dowal street.
“No, no, in a corner, not in front of people,” a man is heard saying as another person is seen dragging the bullying victim by the arm to the pavement as he was attempting to cross the street.
“What is this, faggot, isn’t this a butt?” another man said, slapping the victim’s bottom.
The highly-edited video of 44 seconds shows a man slapping his victim’s face, and the victim is heard groaning with pain. In the final shots of the video, the victim is seen fallen to the ground and moaning, while another man is trying to pull him up by his shirt.
Homosexuality in Egypt
Although there is no specific law that criminalizes homosexuality, gay rights activists say there is a campaign against the LGBT community in Egypt, as homosexuals, mostly men, are sometimes charged with “debauchery.”
In January, an Egyptian court acquitted 26 men who had been arrested in a televised raid at a Cairo public bathhouse in a sensational case. In November 2014, eight men were sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor for appearing in a video allegedly celebrating a gay marriage on a Nile boat.
In April, an Egyptian court ruled that the police are entitled to deport foreigners who engage in gay acts.
There are no formal or informal statistics over the LGBT community in Egypt, but they have their own underground activities in the country’s conservative society.
The video, filmed and posted by Ahmad Sanad, has over 1,530 Facebook shares and has been viewed over 103,450 times.
The comments on social media predominantly denounced the bullying; some people criticized the “feminine-looking” man on religious and safety grounds, but still slammed the group that beat him.
Facebook user Tamer Mowafi said “[t]he video has nothing to do with gay rights, as simply their no proof that the person who appeared in it is gay.”
“Our basic rights are to walk in the streets safely and we can never give up over this,” he added.
Another Facebook user, Ashraf Hamdi, also condemned the incident. “Sometimes I face some verbal abuses in the street because I have long hair, but when I respond, the bullying stops,” he said.
“If this type of abuse continues, you also must resort to violence, as the law of the jungle is what rules now,” he added.
Sanad, who called for the video to go viral, also posted a description written by Farah Hamouda.
“Forget gay rights; and let’s discuss basic human rights which clearly don’t even exist in this video. This rather feminine looking man was walking the streets of Cairo yesterday in ‘Gamaat El Dowal’, when instantly he was attacked; both verbally & physically for this appearance by a group of homophobic, young men.”
“Unable to defend himself, he was hit multiple times as the crowd laughed & jeered at him. Following an attempt to escape, a taxi wouldn’t even stop for him & drove on. Onlookers would also ignore his helplessness, as merely due to him being gay had apparently diminished completely his rights as a human. This is not a post about the defense of gay rights as much as it is the defense of basic, human empathy & rights.”