Egypt Hub

#StandForEgyptLGBT Embassy Protests Slated For October 18th

EgyptLast month eight gay Egyptian men were arrested and “tested for homosexuality” after appearing in a video in showing a gay marriage. Though homosexuality is not explicitly illegal within the country, authorities cited “inciting debauchery” as their reasoning behind bringing the men to trial.

Queer-rights supporters have rallied in response to the men’s arrests, organizing coordinated both physical and online protests on various social networking platforms around the hastags  #StandForEgyptLGBT and #SolidarityWithEgyptLGBT.

"We invite you to participate in the demonstration that will take place on 18 October 2014 in front of every Egyptian embassy around the world [if accessible] to protest against human rights violations committed by the Egyptian government,” Solidarity With Egypt organizers wrote in an online statement. “relying on unlawful and unethical media tools, towards those of differing sexual orientations and gender identities."

#StopBlueCoat, a third hashtag protesters are rallying behind is a direct reference to Blue Coat Systems, an American security firm based in California that is responsible for providing Egypt with much of its surveillance technology. Blue Coat recently began the process of distancing itself from its Egyptian business connections facing backlash following a Buzzfeed article.

Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO

Grindr message

Grindr has sent a message to all Egyptian users this week warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you,” reports Buzzfeed.

GrindrAccording to state-owned Egyptian news site Ahram Online, six men were sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison with labor for allegedly advertising their apartment on Facebook for men to have sex with each other for a fee of $200 per night.

The warning comes after Egyptian authorities arrested nine men for "debauchery" but later concluded that "the men tested negative for homosexuality."

It was also reported earlier this month that authorities in Egypt intend to use new online monitoring software See Egypt to hunt down LGBT people.

As Egypt has stepped up arrests of gay people - around 80 since October last year - human rights activists had speculated that authorities were targeting people through social media. Officials have already confirmed that Facebook groups for gay Egyptians are being closely monitored.

Although Egyptian Human Rights groups filed a lawsuit on June 17 alleging that monitoring software “threatens private life and public freedom,” the lawsuit could take years to work its way through the courts. In the meantime See Egypt will continue to be used.

Watch a report on Egypt's online surveillance system, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO" »

Men From Egyptian 'Gay Marriage' Video to Face Trial Tomorrow On Charges of 'Inciting Debauchery'

Egypt wedding

A group of men arrested in Egypt for appearing in a video earlier this month featuring a gay marriage will face trial tomorrow for "inciting debauchery," AFP reports:

Homosexuality is not included in a list of sexual offences explicitly outlawed by Egyptian law, but it can be punished under several different statutes on morality.

Seven of the nine men identified from the video were arrested on September 6.

They tested "negative" after they were put through controversial medical exams designed to detect whether they were homosexuals.

The eighth suspect was arrested days later.

The detainees include the two men at the centre of the marriage ceremony.

The accused will now face trial starting Tuesday in front of a misdemeanour court on charges of inciting debauchery and offending public morality, an official from the prosecutor's office said.

Grindr Addresses Concerns Over Egyptian Police Using App To Arrest Gay Men

Grindr2Grindr has responded to claims that its popular networking application is being used by Egyptian police to target and arrest gay men. Reports of Egyptian authorities using apps like Grindr to locate, expose, and jail men for violating the country’s laws criminalizing public homosexuality first surfaced in August following a massive security leak that left most Grindr users location data open and exposed to the public. Grindr, which released  a preliminary patch to the security flaw in early September, assured its users that the hack allowing third parties to triangulate a specific person’s location was not, in fact, an oversight on their part.

“Since October 2013, there has been a real manhunt for gay people in Egypt.” Samia A., an underground LGBT rights campaigner told France24, “The police aren’t just targeting well-known gay hangouts, they are increasingly raiding homes when they think there is an LGBT party going on.”

As of October, 2013, some 77 individuals have been arrested in Egypt thanks to the Egyptian police’s coordinated efforts targeting LGBT gatherings, something Grindr says it is trying to curtail.

"We monitor and review all reports of security issues regularly," representatives for the social network assured The Advocate. "As such, we continue to evaluate and make ongoing changes as necessary to protect our users."

Is Egypt Surveilling Social Media To Hunt Down Gay People? - VIDEO

Egyptian surveillance

Concerns are mounting in Egypt that authorities will use new online monitoring software to hunt down LGBT people, reports Buzzfeed.

Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities arrested nine men for "debauchery" but later concluded that "the men tested negative for homosexuality."

Using U.S. technology, Egypt is now monitoring online communications, giving the government an unprecedented ability to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp and Viber.

In recent weeks, Egypt’s LGBT community has issued warnings to avoid using Grindr after rumors spread that officials were using the app to arrest gay men.

Although Egyptian officials have said their monitoring of online activity will focus on preventing terrorist attacks, one Interior Ministry official said the current mandate was “much broader”:

“We are looking at any conversation, any interaction, we might find worrying or would want to keep a closer eye on. We are watching conversations between Islamists, or those who discuss Islamism. We are watching communities, which we consider at risk.”

EgyptThe official went on to say that those taking part in “debauchery” or “homosexual acts” would be watched “for the protection of Egypt.”

He added that although he wasn’t familiar with Grindr, there were “dozens of Facebook groups” used by the LGBT community that are being watched.

Gen. Hany Abd el Lateef, a spokesman for Egypt’s Interior Ministry, denied that the government plans to monitor citizens’ private lives.  

However, a copy of the tenders issued by the Interior Ministry which specifies the type of online communications it will be searching for suggests otherwise.  The list includes:

  • Blasphemy and skepticism in religions
  • Spreading of rumors and intentional twisting of facts
  • Sarcasm
  • Pornography, looseness, and lack of morality

Providing the service to the Egyptian government, See Egypt is the sister company of the U.S.-based Blue Coat.

Ali Miniesy, the CEO of See Egypt, said that the company had been contracted to provide Egypt’s State Security with the system, and to teach officials how to comb through data gathered from email accounts and social media sites.

He added that although the software can be used to penetrate social media and other software, it is a system similar to that used by most Western governments, including the United States.

According to Eva Blum-Dumontet, an advocacy officer with the U.K.-based NGO Privacy International:

“This new software makes it very easy to target anyone, en masse. The user simply says, ‘I want to look for atheists, or homosexuals,’ and the company gets all the data. It’s extremely easy.

"There is a difference between what you do on social media and what you do in the real world. The concern is that people who are not necessarily our protesting would suddenly be on the radar of the Egyptian authorities because they liked a status on Facebook or retweeted something.”

Egyptian Human Rights groups filed a lawsuit on June 17 alleging that the system used by Egypt “threatens private life and public freedom.”  However, the lawsuit could take years to work its way through the courts, and in the meantime the See Egypt technology will continue to be used.

Watch a report on this story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Is Egypt Surveilling Social Media To Hunt Down Gay People? - VIDEO" »

Egyptian Forensic Department Conducts 'Medical Test', Concludes Men Accused Of Inciting Debauchery 'Not Homosexuals': VIDEO


Following the arrest of nine men for a 'gay marriage' Internet video, Egypt's Forensic Medicine Authority have found the men are "not homosexuals."

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d06603fb970c-200wiAs forensics spokesman Dr. Hisham Abdel Hamid put it in a surreal-sounding statement to CairoScene, "The men tested negative for homosexuality."

This is not the end for the men — despite the evidence in their favor, their ultimate fate remains unsure. Said Dr. Hamid: "What happens next is up to the judicial process." The men are being charged with "inciting debauchery," and it's difficult to say how these test results may impact the charge — it seems it'd be entirely possible to "incite debauchery" as a heterosexual.

Daily News Egypt reports it's not uncommon for suspected Egyptian homosexuals to undergo medical tests that determine whether they are “habitual” homosexuals — the language used in other cases similar to this one.

The 'wedding video' incident is the latest in a series of crackdowns on homosexuality by the Egyptian government.

Interestingly, Egyptian law does not explicitly forbid homosexuality. However, the recent crackdowns accuse the suspects of “violating the teachings of religion and public morals.”

You can watch what is reportedly the video in question titled "Egypt's first gay marriage", AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Egyptian Forensic Department Conducts 'Medical Test', Concludes Men Accused Of Inciting Debauchery 'Not Homosexuals': VIDEO" »


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