Sarah Hegazi was an intersectional Egyptian queer feminist and human rights defender who was forced to flee her country and ultimately took her own life following relentless targeting and repression. As the space for organizing and expression across the MENA region narrows, too many advocates find themselves in voluntary or forced exile. They search for opportunities to continue their activism, advocacy, and scholarship from abroad, but they find it difficult to do so in the face of numerous stressors, from gaining legal status, to securing employment, and accessing mental and physical health support. Named in her honor, the annual Sarah Hegazi Nonresident Fellowship is awarded to an advocate from the MENA region who is living in exile and will allow them to continue their critical work from abroad while housed at TIMEP.
About Sarah Hegazi
In Egypt, Sarah was a member of the democratic socialist Bread and Freedom Party and a vocal advocate on key issues, including the release of political detainees and against the application of the death penalty. She was an outspoken and strong ally of movements for freedom across the MENA region, including in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Sudan.
In September 2017, Sarah attended a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo in which she raised the rainbow flag. In the days and weeks to follow, Egyptian authorities led a widespread campaign against the country’s LGBTQI+ community and as part of this campaign, they arrested Sarah. In custody, Sarah was subject to torture and mistreatment; police officers incited inmates to beat and sexually and verbally assault her. As a result of what would become a three months-long detention, Sarah was fired from her job and experienced severe depression and PTSD. Ultimately, and out of fear for her safety amid continued targeting, bullying, and repression, Sarah was forced to flee Egypt in 2018. She traveled to Canada where she sought political asylum. While living in exile apart from her family, her loved ones, and the country and community most dear to her, Sarah took her life on June 13, 2020. Sarah was 30 years old.
Sarah Hegazi Fellows
In May 2023, TIMEP announced its first Sarah Hegazi fellow: Nora Noralla. Her work is focused on issues of gender and sexuality across the MENA region.
You can help us honor Sarah’s legacy by making a gift to the Sarah Hegazi fellowship. Your support to this program is critical to ensuring that Sarah Hegazi’s memory lives on and that this fellowship can continue next year and in the years to come.