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A few blocks into the ride, Firas saw the checkpoint, a rare occurrence in a quiet, residential area like Mesaha.When the car stopped, the officer working the checkpoint talked to Firas’ date with deference, almost as if he were a fellow cop. “Seven or eight people chased me,” he later told the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a local LGBT rights group. At that moment, I saw a person coming from a police microbus with a baton.He was taken to the Forensic Authority, where doctors examined his anus for signs of sexual activity, but there was still no real evidence of a crime.After three weeks, he was convicted of crimes related to debauchery and sentenced to a year in prison.

He would spend the next 11 weeks in detention, mostly at the Doqi police station.

The most recent wave of arrests started last September after an audience member unfurled a gay pride flag at a rock concert, something the regime took as a personal insult.

More than 75 people were arrested on debauchery charges in the weeks that followed.

“They caught me and beat me up, insulting me with the worst words possible. I was scared to be hit on my face so I gave in.” He was taken to the Mogamma, an immense government building on Tahrir Square that houses Egypt’s General Directorate for Protecting Public Morality.

The police made him unlock his phone so they could check it for evidence.

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