Egypt Refugee Sarah Hegazi
Sarah Hegazi waving the rainbow flag
2 min read

Tributes are flowing for a 30-year-old Egyptian refugee who committed suicide on the weekend in Canada after being threatened and imprisoned in Egypt for taking out a rainbow flag at a concert.

Sarah Hegazie, a young lesbian woman, originally from Egypt, had gone into exile in Canada during 2018.

This followed an incident during a festival in Cairo in the summer of 2017, where Lebanese rock group Mashrou’Leila, whose singer is openly gay, played a concert.


In the crowd, Sarah Hegazi, carried by the euphoria of the moment, takes out a rainbow flag. A friend takes her photo, a bright smile on her face.

In response, the young woman and many others caught a wave of hatred and threats on social networks and in TV shows. Twelve people present at the concert were arrested, including Sarah Hegazi.

She “had a tough experience in prison” for three months, said Amnesty International. She was reportedly tortured and subjected to sexual violence in there.

After moving to Canada as a refugee in 2018, Hegazi had reportedly struggled emotionally with everything that had happened which sadly led to her death on Sunday.

Hegazi left a handwritten letter: “To my brothers and sisters, I tried to survive and I failed, forgive me. My friends, the experience was cruel and I am too weak to resist it, forgive me. In the world, you were terribly cruel, but I forgive.”

Many tributes have been broadcast since Sunday on social networks, often accompanied by LGBT + flags.

“The Egyptian regime imprisoned and tortured Sarah Hegazi for this photo,” wrote Egyptian feminist activist Mona Eltahawy, posting the photo of the young lesbian at the Mashrou’Leila concert.

Human Rights Watch Director Middle East and North Africa Sarah Leah Whitson spoke on Twitter of a woman “clearly in pain, traumatized by her torture,” before adding: “In case anyone has any doubts, the government of Egypt killed her.”

Hamed Sinno, 32, lead singer of the group Mashrou’Leila, who lives in New York and defends LGBT + rights in the Middle East and in the world, posted on his Facebook page a one minute video where he sings a song in tribute to Sarah Hegazi. He pronounces, in Arabic, the last sentence that the young woman had posted on social networks before her death: “The sky is more beautiful than the earth, and I want the sky, not the earth.”


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Rest in power

A post shared by Hamlet (@hamed.sinno) on

Last Updated on Jun 17, 2020

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