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“I froze as a human being for a while,” one Egyptian called Omar told me. There were so many horrific stories about people being imprisoned or blackmailed or put under some sort of pressure for their sexuality.
It was disturbing.” Egypt’s state media has largely cheered on the crackdown, treating a 2014 raid on the Bab al-Bahr bathhouse as more of a tabloid drama than a human rights issue.
They had met online, part of a growing community of gay Egyptians using services like Grindr, Hornet, and Growler, but this was their first time meeting in person.
The man had been aggressive, explicitly asking Firas to bring condoms for the night ahead.
Believing he would be given better treatment, he agreed — but things only got worse from there.
He would spend the next 11 weeks in detention, mostly at the Doqi police station.
The condoms he had brought were entered as evidence.
Investigators told him to say he had been molested as a child, that the incident was responsible for his deviant sexual habits.
For those in the community, the threat of violence is hard to escape.In the weeks after the September crackdown, both Grindr and Hornet began sending out warnings through their apps, notifying users of the crackdown and giving the same advice about retaining a lawyer and watching for police accounts.The messages served as a kind of early warning system, a way to spread news of the new threat as quickly as possible.A few blocks into the ride, Firas saw the checkpoint, a rare occurrence in a quiet, residential area like Mesaha.When the car stopped, the officer working the checkpoint talked to Firas’ date with deference, almost as if he were a fellow cop. “Seven or eight people chased me,” he later told the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a local LGBT rights group. At that moment, I saw a person coming from a police microbus with a baton.
But with developers thousands of miles away, it can be hard to know what to change.