Young LGBT+ activist, Sarah Hegazy, was found dead in her home in Canada, where she’s lived in exile since 2018.
She sadly took her own life on 14 Jun 20, leaving behind a note handwritten in Arabic asking her loved ones to forgive her:
“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.”
Her death and note were later confirmed by her lawyer Khaled Al-Masry on 15 Jun 20.
Hegazy caught the attention of Egyptian authorities in October 2017, when she held a rainbow flag at a “Mashrou Leila” (Leila project) concert in Cairo. The band’s lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay and an advocate for LGBT+ rights in Lebanon. Egyptian authorities arrested her for her role in the LGBT+ show, which sparked backlash in the largely Muslim, conservative country.
Egyptian authorities also arrested up to 57 people following the rainbow flag incident in a campaign against the LGBT+ community. People were charged of “promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery.”
“It was an act of support and solidarity — not only with the [Mashrou Leila] vocalist but for everyone who is oppressed,” Hegazy had said to NPR in 2018.
“We were proud to hold the flag. We wouldn’t have imagined the reaction of society and the Egyptian state. For them, I was a criminal — someone who was seeking to destroy the moral structure of society.”
Although the iconic and queer activist was eventually freed on bail, her three-month experience in prison had been physically and emotionally taxing, leading to a development of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a failed suicide attempt.
Activists paid tribute to Hegazy on social media, with some using the hashtag #RaiseTheFlagForSarah.
— Reem Abdellatif (@Reem_Abdellatif) June 14, 2020
amazing egyptian queer activist Sarah Hegazy has claimed her own life today. She was in exile after she got imprisoned in 2017 for her ferocious, courageous queer activism. this is too heartbreaking.
— n.o. (@naderandrawos) June 14, 2020
Sarah Hegazy, 30, an Egyptian- Queer activist, died today in exile in Canada after she was arrested and tortured by the security forces in Egypt for inciting dawn and immorality. She was brave and full of hope,but the cruelty of sorrow, loneliness and oppression divided her back pic.twitter.com/gVtCb62tqu
— Adel Azouni (@adelazouni) June 14, 2020
— Bianca Nozaki-Nasser (@lifewithBianca) June 14, 2020
Sara Hegazy, an Egyptian activist who was jailed and tortured after she raised a rainbow #Pride flag at infamous @Mashrou3Leila 2017 concert in Egypt, has committed suicide in Canada where she was living in asylum. Absolutely devastating & tragic. Rest in power, Sara. #سارة_حجازي pic.twitter.com/297EnGbKJS
— Wirjil (@Wirjil) June 14, 2020