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Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemns deadly attack on gay nightclub in Orlando
Courtesy: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the fatal mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which left 50 people dead on Sunday, in a statement published on its Facebook page.

On Sunday, the gunman, later identified as Omar Mateen, stormed a gay nightclub in Orlando, shooting and killing 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is considered the worst mass shooting in United States’ history.

The gunman called 911 at the time of the shooting and reportedly declared his allegiance to the Islamic State, according to a US official.

The Egyptian statement offered condolences from Egypt’s “government and people to the government and people of the United States.” It also reiterated Egypt’s calls to fight terrorism, “which knows no boundaries or religion,” highlighting the importance of “international solidarity” in combating this phenomenon across the world.

On his Twitter account, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid offered his “heartfelt condolences to the families of Orlando horrific terrorist attack victims.”

“We stand united in this moment of grief,” he wrote.

Egypt is notorious for its crackdown on the LGBT community. While homosexuality is not technically illegal in the Egyptian Penal Code, LGBT individuals are often targeted using laws criminalizing “debauchery,” along with other vague indictments such as “indecent behavior” and “violating public morals.”

Last April, Agouza Criminal Court sentenced 11 people to three to 12 years in prison for “practicing, inciting and publicizing immoral practices.”

In November 2014, a misdemeanor court sentenced eight men to three years in prison after they were filmed in what appeared to be a gay marriage ceremony that took place on a boat on the Nile.

The Solidarity with Egypt LGBT campaign estimates that 172 LGBT individuals were arrested between October 2013 and December 2015 in Egypt, a figure the group states is based on local media reports.

Defendants in these cases are often forced to undergo a compulsory “forensic anal exam,” which is meant to determine whether or not they have been involved in sexual activity, despite heavy criticism of the practice from human rights organizations.

Egypt’s morality police often target members of the LGBT community using dating applications, such as Grindr, entrapping individuals by posing as someone interested in a relationship, according to gay rights activists.

In April 2015, the Administrative Court granted the Ministry of Interior the right to deport and ban “foreign homosexuals” from entering the country.

Another recent and widely publicized case took place in December 2014, when TV presenter Mona al-Iraqi aired footage of several men getting arrested in a Ramses bathhouse, after she had reported them to the police, allegedly for “practicing homosexuality.”

The defendants were later acquitted of charges of debauchery and indecent public acts, in what was described as a shocking verdict by rights activists.