On June 13, 2016 Al Bawaba reported: Egypt and Saudi Arabia were both rebuked on social media after offering their “deepest condolences” to the victims of the Orlando attack, which occurred at a gay dance club called Pulse on Sunday.
“Our heartfelt condolences to the families of Orlando horrific terrorist attack victims. We stand united in this moment of grief,” said Egypt’s Foreign Ministry in a tweet that day.
Our heartfelt condolences to the families of Orlando horrific terrorist attack victims. We stand united in this moment of grief@StateDept
— Egypt MFA Spokesman (@MfaEgypt) June 12, 2016
Egypt has a poor record on gay rights–although it’s not technically illegal to be gay in Egypt, the government has imprisoned dozens of members of the LGBT community in recent years for things like “debauchery” or “pornography.”
Egypt’s tweet was met with swift backlash.
Robert Ruttledge, a physics professor at McGill University in Montreal, said, “Will your government stop arresting gay men, for simply being gay?”
— Robert Rutledge (@rerutled) June 12, 2016
“Egyptian authorities regularly arrest gay men, give them anal tests and throw them in jail for having sex,” said Evan Hill, a multimedia journalist who focuses on the Middle East.
Egyptian authorities regularly arrest gay men, give them anal tests and throw them in jail for having sex.https://t.co/GMnYZBQCky
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) June 13, 2016
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, US ambassador Abullah Al Saud issued a statement on Monday saying, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns in the strongest terms the attack on innocent people in Orlando, Florida, and sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of the United States. We stand with the American people at this tragic time.”
Unfortunately for the ambassador, gay sex is illegal in the Kingdom, and can be punished by death or flogging, depending on the perceived seriousness of the crime, according to the US State Department’s2014 Human Rights report.
As a result of those policies, Saudi’s statement was greeted with a fair bit of scorn online.