This article contains references to suicide/self-harm.
Mashrou’ Leila, one of the Arab world’s most popular bands, is disintegrating amid years of backlash for its support for LGBT rights.
At its peak, the indie band played to a crowd of 35,000 people in Cairo, singing alongside their hit song Kalaam in 2017.
But the band sparked controversy due to its support for the LGBTIQ+ community, which ended in tragedy with the arrest and murder of one of its fans.
How a group with a gay lead singer achieved huge success in the Middle East
The lead singer of Mashrou’ Leila, Hamed Sinno, is clearly gay, but the band has achieved massive success in the conservative Middle East.
Mashrou’ Leila during a concert in Cairo in 2017, witnessed one of its biggest moments, playing to tens of thousands of people.
Sarah Hegazy raises the flag of pride at Mashrou’ Leila party in Cairo. source: Twitter
Among the protesters is the Egyptian activist, Sarah Hegazy, who was photographed waving a rainbow flag.
Sinno later wrote about the concert at And he felt safe, seeing and loving after discovering science.
But the moment sparked controversy, with Snow writing that Egyptian news stations reported that “thousands of perverts have gathered for a diabolical gay orgy”. He said that Al-Azhar University had issued a fatwa and 75 people had been imprisoned.
This is not a normal life, to have 100,000 people tell you on Facebook that you must die.
Egypt does not have explicit laws prohibiting homosexuality but morality laws have been used against the LGBTQ+ community. There is overwhelming popular opposition to homosexuality.
The situation in Lebanon, the homeland of Snow, is slightly better. Homosexuality is technically illegal but the laws are not widely enforced. Despite this, a 2020 report from the Pew Research Center found that 85 percent of people in Lebanon said they did not believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society.
In an article for Freese, Snow explained that Sarah Hegazy was detained for three months after waving the flag, during which time she was “electrified, beaten, sexually assaulted and tortured” in Egypt. After being released on bail, she was granted political asylum in Canada but died by suicide three years later.
Why is Mashrou’ Leila dissolved?
This week Snow said to the podcast That what happened to Sarah was “very harmful to me psychologically and emotionally”.
“What happened to Sarah, even today I still don’t know how to fix it,” he said.
This was one of the reasons Sinno gave as to why the group decided to break up.
“I decided it was enough, and I also felt like every member of the band is putting a lot of pressure on us and it’s not a normal life, to have 100,000 people tell you on Facebook that you should die,” he said.
“There was a tremendous amount of resentment and no one could go through with this and end up being normal or sane.”
It also came in the wake of canceling the band’s appearance at the first Lebanese Byblos Music Festival in 2019 “to prevent bloodshed”.
The clergy had demanded that the concert be canceled because some of the group’s songs were considered offensive to Christians.
Finances were a factor too, said Senos, who is now back in Lebanon after living in New York for several years, as the band “barely made enough to allow us to continue” even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that he currently writes opera and that he recently completed his master’s degree in the United States.
“No one is considering working together again at the moment.”
LGBTIQ+ Australians seeking mental health support can contact QLife at 1800 184827 or visit . It also contains a list of support services.
Australian bisexuals seeking support can visit Intersex Peer Support Australia at isupport.org.au.
Readers seeking support in a crisis situation can contact Lifeline at 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300659467 and the Children’s Helpline at 1800 55 1800 (for young people up to age 25). More information and support in the field of mental health is available at and at 1300 22 4636.
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