Toronto: Sarah Hegazi, an Egyptian LGBTQ activist, who was arrested and tortured for waving a Pride flag at a concert in 2017, has committed suicide on Sunday (June 14) while in exile in Canada. At the crowded concert of progressive Lebanese Indie band Mashrou’ Leila (whose lead singer Hamed Sinho is also openly gay), Hegazi and many others were arrested.
Hegazi was in exile since 2018 and left behind a note asking her family and friends to forgive her. “To my siblings – I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me,” Hegazy’s handwritten letter said. “To my friends – the experience (journey) was harsh and I am too weak to resist it, forgive me. To the world – you were cruel to a great extent, but I forgive.”
in her letter from jail in november 2017, sara hegazi wrote “despite the frustrations of hope, we live on.”— Bahira Amin (@bahirairl) June 14, 2020
what i can’t wrap my head around is the hope. to the hopeful among us, how? how do u manage it when the days when this happens are more than the days when it doesn’t? pic.twitter.com/tKky2WUDxl
Out of all the detainees, Hagezi and Ahmed Alaa faced the most serious charges. They were both charged with ‘joining an illegal group and promoting its ideas’ and ‘promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery’, which was specifically labelled against Hegazi. “They were a force really, a large number of officers with weapons coming to get one woman,” Hegazi told Deutsche-Welle in 2018.
In an interview to NPR in 2018, Hegazi said the state viewed her as a ‘criminal’ who was ‘seeking to destroy the moral structure of society’. Her lawyer said that at the police station Hegazi was also questioned about her sexuality and why she did not wear a headscarf. She spent three months in a women’s prison and shared a cell with inmates who were ordered not to talk to her. Hegazi was also ‘violently assaulted’ and electrocuted during the ordeal.
Sara Hegazi died because of her honesty.— Ekram Ibrahim (@ekramibrahim) June 14, 2020
She died because our darkness is bigger than her truth.
Her death is the loudest contribution to #PrideMonth
Sarah is an #Egyptain queer woman who committed suicied in Canada after she was not able to fight anymore #سارة_حجازي pic.twitter.com/JMRQJ1lVaF
“I did it because of my sexuality,” Hegazi told Deutsche-Welle earlier. “I was declaring myself in a society which hates all that is different from the norm. Her decision of flying the pride flag was an act of support and solidarity, ‘not only with the (Mashrou’ Leila) vocalist but for everyone who is oppressed.”
Both Hegazi and Alaa fled to Canada, where they were granted asylum and relocated in Toronto. Though Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, it is a conservative society e and discrimination is teeming. Gay men are frequently arrested and are subjected to anal sex examination to check if they have engaged in same-sex activities which question the human rights of LBGT individuals. Activists paid respect to Hegazi on social media.