Egyptians decry ‘gay’ U.S. abusers in Iraq

Three hundred Egyptians rallied in Cairo last week, blaming the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib prison on “homosexual American executioners.” Graphic photos of American soldiers torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners have inspired anger across the Middle East. The Cairo protest worries human rights advocates, who say that tying torture to homosexuality fits into a larger political agenda. The Egyptian government has sought to paint homosexuality as a Western import while prosecuting those Egyptians accused of it. If homosexuality comes to be associated with imperialism, say rights advocates, gay Egyptians could face further repression. - YaleGlobal

Egyptians decry 'gay' U.S. abusers in Iraq

Patrick Letellier
Monday, May 17, 2004

SUMMARY: Last week Egyptian demonstrators protesting the abuse of prisoners at an Iraqi prison blamed the mistreatment on what they called "homosexual American executioners."

Last week Egyptian demonstrators protesting the abuse of prisoners at an Iraqi prison, which has sparked international outrage in recent weeks, blamed the abuse on what they called "homosexual American executioners."

The rally, held last Wednesday in Cairo, followed other protests throughout the Middle East over graphic photos depicting the abuse and torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison at the hands of U.S. soldiers. Many of the abuses reported and depicted were sexual, including forcing nude male prisoners to pile on top of each other, and forcing them to simulate oral and anal sex with each other. Prisoners have also alleged being sodomized with broom handles and other objects.

According to a report in the Kuwait Times, 300 Egyptian protestors rallied in front of a banner that read, "Bring to justice the homosexual American executioners, their agents the traitors, their followers the enemies."

The report also quotes Mustafa Bakri, editor of the Al-Osboa weekly newspaper, who said, "Those gays forced our brothers in Iraq to practice homosexuality and filmed them. If we remain silent, we will be next."

Human rights experts and advocates for gays in the military say that by labeling the perpetrators of abuse as gay, protestors are deliberately blurring the lines between homosexuality and torture to serve a broader anti-gay political agenda.

This blurring reflects "an imagination grounded in homophobia, where forced rape is read as gay sex, and torture is read as homosexuality," said Aaron Belkin, director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. "The protestors' way of dehumanizing the American soldiers is to say that they're gay."

The fact that gays are being blamed by protestors in Egypt is also significant, experts say, because the Egyptian government has been engaged in a year-long campaign of persecuting gay men, a campaign that entails harassment, entrapment and the mass arrest and torture of gay men, according to a recent report by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.

"Much of the discourse that's been going on in Egypt is that homosexuality is an import from the West, and here you have Western imperialists, the occupiers in Iraq, using homosexuality this way," said Scott Long, director of the LGBT Rights Project at Human Rights Watch.

The perpetrators of abuse in Iraq "use homosexuality in a homophobic way, to indicate humiliation and shame," which only adds support to a widely held belief in Egypt that homosexuality itself is degrading, Long told the PlanetOut Network.

"But the issue here is not homosexuality, the issue here is torture," he said.

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