Pride flag ‘banned’ from Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Egypt

Police searched concertgoers for rainbow flags before allowing them to enter the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert

Police allegedly searched concertgoers for rainbow Pride flags before allowing them to enter Red Hot Chili Peppers concert outside the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo.

Journalist Samer Al-Atrush tweeted, “Entering Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at Cairo Pyramids. Police officer asks: ‘you have no flags?’ Asked what type of flags responds: ‘flag for the gays. Not allowed.’”

The police officers also confiscated a child’s crayons, according to Twitter user Ahmed Mohieldin, to stop them “drawing the rainbow flag.”

The police offer elaborated by saying that he was looking for the flag with “three colours,” according to Al-Atrush. This prompted user Niamh McBurney to reply, “like the Belgian flag?”

Ed Clowes pointed out the irony over the Egyptian government congratulating Rami Malek for his Oscar win portraying gay icon Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsodywhilst pursuing an anti-gay crackdown that has been raging since September 2017.

Another Twitter user argued that “exerting pressure on artists to demand that their performances are non-discriminatory seems like something that people should do (more of).”

Egypt’s war on Pride flags

Egypt does not explicitly outlaw homosexual acts, but around 95 percent of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society, according to a 2013 survey.

The rainbow Pride flag has been a symbol for the anti-LGBT+ movement to rally around.

In September 2017, a rainbow flag that was unfurled at the gig of Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila attracted the ire of religious leaders, politicians and sections of the Egyptian media.

A Pride flag at Mashrou Leila's concert

The Pride flag at Mashrou Leila’s concert in Egypt, 2017. (RainbowEgypt/Facebook)

33 people were arrested in the following nine days, on charges of “promoting sexual deviance” and “debauchery.”

According to The New Arab, many of those arrested were convicted and sentenced to between six months and six years in prison.

The purge, which is ongoing, has included a Russia-style ban on the media—including TV and film, radio, online and print—mentioning even the existence of LGBT people. 

In January, an Egyptian TV host was jailed for one year for interviewing a gay man—despite being anti-gay himself.

Police have also been accused of ensnaring gay men through dating apps such as Hornet, Grindr and Growler. The victims were allegedly beaten, anally examined and imprisoned.

Earlier this month Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to ensure the safety of transgender woman Malak al-Kashef, after she was seized from her home during a police raid and placed in a male prison.