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Arrests in Egypt over appearance of rainbow flags during concert: report

Hamed Sinno, the lead singer of Lebanese band Mashrou Leila, performs on stage at the Dubai International Marine Club during a music festival, on April 7, 2017
Karim Sahib (AFP/File)
The band's songs tackle issues which are controversial in the Arab world, such as gender norms and sexuality

Seven people were reportedly arrested by Egyptian police on Monday for "promoting sexual deviancy" after being suspected of raising a rainbow flag at a concert in the deeply conservative country, Reuters reported.

Lebanese alternative music band Mashrou Leila, whose lead singer is gay and who have been twice banned from performing in Jordan, performed in Cairo last week.

Pictures soon emerged of concert-goers waving a rainbow flag, the global symbol of the LGBTI+ community, while perched on the shoulders of audience-goers.

While the appearance of the flags was reportedly well-received in the audience, reaction from others in Egypt -- where homosexuality is taboo and often elicits police crackdowns -- took to social media to insult the flag-bearers.

Mashrou Leila have built up a strong fan base both in the Arab world and internationally in recent years with hits such as July's 'Roman', however lead vocalist Hamed Sinno's sexuality has raised shackles in the largely Muslim Middle East, where gay rights are almost non-existent.

The group's songs also tackle issues which are controversial in much of the Arab world, such as gender norms and religious freedom.


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