Activist tortured in prison for raising queer flag in Egypt dies

The LGBTQ+ community is mourning the loss of Egyptian queer campaigner Sarah Hijazi, who passed away over the weekend.

On 14 June, Sarah died in Canada where she has been living since 2018.

Press reports and activists on social media have posted that she died by suicide after suffering from post-prison trauma.

A short letter attributed to Sarah, written in Arabic, circulated on social media following her death. The letter read: “To my siblings – I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me. 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.”

Sarah made headlines in October 2017 when she was arrested by Egyptian authorities for waving a Pride flag at a music concert.

She was arrested, imprisoned and tortured in prison in Egypt for three months after this incident.

30-year-old Sarah reported being fired from her job for opposing the Sisi regime in Egypt.

She described President Sisi as “the most oppressive and violent dictator in our modern history”. She had claimed asylum and was living in Canada while undergoing PTSD from the prison torture experience she underwent in Egypt.

Egyptian prosecution accused her of joining a banned group in the country which they describe as promoting “deviant thought”. Although homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, there are laws that prohibit “deviant thought, promotion of immorality, and acts contrary to public morals.”

She identified as a communist and supported the Bread and Freedom Party while living in Egypt.

In 2010, Sarah graduated from Thebas Academy with a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems, and the American University in Cairo Continuing Education Center in 2016. Through online learning initiatives, Sarah completed certificates in “Fighting for Equality: 1950-2018”, “Feminism and Social Justice”, “Research Methods”, “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace”, and “Understanding Violence” at Columbia University, University of California Santa Cruz, SOAS University of London, the University of Pittsburgh, and Emory University.