Sarah Hegazy Suicide
via Instagram @sarahhegazi89

The following is an open letter written by EMPWR’s founder in response to the death of LGBTQ Activist, Sarah Hegazy, on June 14th, 2020.

I’m sorry we couldn’t accept you, Sarah Hegazy.
I’m sorry you lived in a world that treated you so cruelly.
I’m so sorry.

I’m outraged at myself for living in 2020 and having to write this letter, to the LGBTQ community in the Arab world.

You deserve better.

As a peaceful human being, you really do not deserve to be treated the way you were.

I’m sorry that we still can’t respect people of different sexual orientations, skin colours, beliefs and creed yet provide them with basic human rights in our region.

Seeing you suffer, tortured, shamed, and publicly humiliated after your death angers me. No words can describe the frustration of reading some of the barbaric comments made online after you left us.

True ignorance is the devil that has fed our people with beliefs that have long been outdated.

As a practicing muslim; a religion of peace and love, I cannot stand silent at the sight of ignorance from people who know of nothing but of the contrary: hate

The comments made upon your death are radical and by are no means reprehensible of the country we both represent. 

I’m sorry that you had to experience torture and death, before your due time.

I cannot begin to imagine the suffering and the abuse you endured since expressing your beliefs at Mashrou Leila’s concert in 2017 in our homeland.

I wouldn’t have lasted a day in solidarity confinement yet you somehow managed 9.

Although I consider myself a proud Egyptian, our country has failed to protect your right as a human being in exercising your freedom of speech.

Our leaders must understand that authority and fear will only create further conflict. Only will respectful dialogue help us advance forward, as a civil and just democracy.

We have deep-rooted cultural challenges we need to overcome, together, as a region. 

We need to empower youth like you to express beliefs and opinions freely, without fear of injustice or suffering.

We certainly need empathy for those who are suffering and we need better suicide resources.

We need all of the above urgently and now.

Only then, can we emerge stronger, united, and more powerful, as a country driven by the collective power of youth.

The reality is that yesterday you chose to leave the world to find peace, after years of torture, bullying, and inevitable looming darkness, for simply expressing and exercising your basic human right.

The above is a heart-wrenching fact. 
Your suicide marks a deep wrenching scar in our hearts.
We must realize that trauma does not end when we migrate to a foreign country. 

The scars you bear, Sarah, will be the ones we’ll continue to work on addressing.

What we’re witnessing is a humanitarian crisis.

So here’s my final statement as the ambassador for mental health in the region:

I wear and tear with the responsibility of shining light on the wellbeing of our youth in our region. Including innocent souls like Sarah’s.

Your voice will remain powerful in our community. 

As a humanitarian, I will be adamant to shine a light on those living in fear through EMPWR, a platform I created after, similarly, nearly taking my life due to mental illness.

Muslim. Christian. Atheist. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Queer. Black. White. Human. Transgender. Asexual. Two-Spirit.

We are human beings, belonging to the Arab community.

The internet is our power.

Hope is now in our hands.

Even though we failed to protect your human rights, as a nation, a region, and a culture, in respecting you, dead and alive, I promise to use my voice as a straight Egyptian man to fight for basic human rights, with honour, respect, and dignity.

You did not deserve to go. Not this way at least.
And definitely not with that inexcusable level bigotry and hatred at the news of your death.

It’s unfair to think that if you were born in any other country, this wouldn’t be your fate.

I refuse to believe that being born in the Arab region can be anything but a blessing.

Just as we fight for our holy land, we must also protect the holiness of our people, despite their shape, size, colour, creed, beliefs, or sexual orientation.

I’m sorry we have a lot of work ahead in order for us to learn how to love and accept others for who they are. We will continue doing our best, for the welfare of our Arab population. 

Fear, injustice, and prejudice has no place in our religion, countries nor our homes.

Love, empathy and compassion will always win.

But for now: I’m sorry.
I’m sorry we couldn’t accept you, Sarah.
I’m sorry for failing to protect your right as a human being.
I’m so sorry.

I love you.

Your brother,
Ally Salama
MENA’s Mental Health Ambassador

View this post on Instagram

هذه آخر كلمات الناشطة المصرية المثلية سارة حجازي، وفقاً لأصدقائها. انتحرت سارة أمس في كندا. فشلت في مقاومة الأوجاع التي حملتها لسنواتٍ، وقرّرت ترك الملعب والرحيل. وهي التي قالت في رسالتها من داخل محبسها في مصر منذ سنوات: “رغم خيبات الأمل نواصل الحياة”، يبدو أن الأمر اليوم كان قد تخطى خيبات الأمل، لتقرّر بطلةُ الحكاية تركَ الملعب والرحيل بأوجاعها وشجاعتها. سنوات من الأوجاع والاضطهاد عاشتها سارة منذ لحظة الصِّدام الأولى لها، دفاعاً عن أفكارها، وذلك في حفل “#مشروع_ليلى” بـ #القاهرة، عندما رفعت علم “قوس قزح” لتعلن عن مثليتها الجنسية، وفي ذلك اليوم كان إعلان الحرب عليها وبداية رحلة العذاب. في أكتوبر 2017، اعتُقلت سارة حجازي على خلفية قضية علم الرينبو، لتبدأ معها رحلة المتاعب التي كان ختامها اليوم باختيارها الذي كانت تكرّره دائماً “السّما أحلى من الأرض”. عانت سارة كثيراً خلال فترة الاعتقال، وتعرّضت للتحرّش الجنسي من السجينات. وبعد خروجها من السّجن ظلّت تعاني من حالة من التحقير الاجتماعي والتعذيب النفسي، مما تسبّب في دخولها المصحة النفسية للعلاج من آثار العنف والصدمة والتنمّر. في ذلك الوقت حاولت سارة حجازي الانتحار للمرّة الأولى، لكنها نجت. بعد أن ضيّق عليها المجتمعُ الخناق، اضطرّت سارة للسفر إلى كندا للهروب بعيداً عن التهديدات الأمنية، والحصار الاجتماعي، وفي منفاها الاختياري دفعت ثمناً جديداً لشجاعتها؛ ثمن مغلف بمرارة الغربة. يمكنكم/ن قراءة #مقال_رأي مصطفى طاهر كاملاً على رصيف22، عنوانه: “السما أحلى من الأرض”… سارة حجازي رحلت بأوجاعها وشجاعتها #سارة_حجازي | #SarahHegazi #مصر | #Egypt #مجتمع_الميم | #LGBTQIA #رصيف22 | #Raseef22

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Remembering Sarah Hegazy

Bassem Youssef

In Solidarity with Sarah Hegazy

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