Who Was Sarah Hegazi – Egyptian LGBTQ Activist Who Died By Suicide

Sarah Hegazi was arrested in 2017 for waving the rainbow flag at a concert in Cairo.

Published23 Jun 2020, 07:54 AM IST
Gender
2 min read

‘Fighter, dreamer, and a person with kind heart.’

In her funeral held in Toronto on Monday, 22 June, Egyptian LGBTQ activist Sarah Hegazi, was fondly remembered a hero. The 30-year-old who had sought asylum in Canada, after being arrested and tortured for waving a rainbow flag in her country, died by suicide on 14 June – leaving the queer community across the world in shock and distress.

From Montreal to Washington DC, vigils were organised across the world, remembering Hegazi.

Why Was Sarah Hegazi Arrested?

Three years ago, in 2017, Hegazi along with 22 other people were arrested as part of a crackdown on queer community for simply raising a rainbow flag at a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Egypt’s Cairo. An iconic photo of Hegazi, holding the Pride Flag, has since gone viral.

Following her arrest, the Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered that two activists, Hegazi and Ahmed Alaa, be detained for a period of 15 days for “pending investigation.” They claimed that the investigation was to look into reports of them having joined a “banned organisation” in the country. Three months after her arrest, Hegazi was reportedly granted bail.

However, fearing further prosecution, Hegazi sought asylum in Canada in 2018.

‘Sexually Assaulted In Police Station’

In September 2018, in an Arabic article published in Mada Masr, Hegazi wrote,“The men of the Sayeda Zeinab police station also incited the women being held there to sexually assault me, physically and verbally.”

“There is no difference between a bearded religious extremist who wants to kill you because he believes he ranks higher in the eyes of his God, and is therefore tasked with killing anyone who is different to him, and a non-bearded, well-dressed man with a new phone and a fancy car who believes he ranks higher in the eyes of his God, and so is tasked with torturing and imprisoning and inciting against anyone who is different.”

"I want to get over it and I want to forget. But no, I'm still stuck in prison," she told during a 2018 interview with CBC News, after moving to Toronto. Almost two years after this interview, she was found dead in her apartment.

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