Egyptian fury over Facebook rainbow


Since the US Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples in America have a right to marry, more than 26 million people have welcomed the news by adding a rainbow tint to their Facebook photo. 

One of those who did so was the popular Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga. According to Albawaba website he is the first Arab actor to show public support for LGBT rights.

Abol Naga – sometimes dubbed "Egypt's Brad Pitt" – has won several Best Actor awards at Arab film festivals, as well as the Egyptian equivalent of an Oscar. As a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef, he has supported a variety of children's causes and narrated a documentary promoting hygiene in Egyptian villages. He has supported people living with HIV and campaigned against female genital mutilation. He has also become an outspoken critic of the Sisi regime.


Abol Naga's rainbow-tinted Facebook photograph has been greeted with horror in Egypt, prompting some predictable gossip about his sexuality, and resulting a in five-minute rant by prominent TV presenter Wael El Ebrashy (see video above).

While suggesting that Abol Naga is secretly gay – "it is not right to impose on his personal life because we disagree with his lifestyle" – Ebrashy said the real issue was "this unholy and unjustified excuse for gay marriage". Gay marriage and LGBT rights, he said, would destroy family values and Egyptian society.

One side-effect of the American court ruling and the global media coverage it attracted is that LGBT rights have become a topic for discussion (even if it's the disapproving kind) in countries where they are rarely mentioned.

In the West Bank last week, Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar painted rainbow stripes on Israel's separation wall – colours which he said "represent love, humanity and freedom". He explains his reasons for this action in an article for Electronic Intifada.

While Jarrar's work drew positive comments from some Palestinians, others viewed it as "shameful" and a post on Facebook warned: "This filth will not see daylight."

Sure enough, after dark, a group of men turned up with white paint and obliterated it.


Before and after ... the rainbow on the separation wall.
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Thursday, 9 July 2015