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Ahmed Alaa describes raising a rainbow flag at a crowded concert in Cairo last September as “the best moment” of his life. In photos from the event, he looks ecstatic as he waves the flag in the spotlights of the outdoor stage hosting the Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila. He posted the photos on Facebook, and others did too. The next morning, he woke up to death threats. A few days later, he was arrested in Egypt’s biggest crackdown on the LGBT community in years. He says his sexuality is a private matter, but his hands on the rainbow flag — a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride — became evidence of what the Egyptian government considers dangerously deviant behavior. “I was shocked at the number of comments threatening to kill me and drag me in the street,” Alaa told NPR in Cairo in March, after he was out on bail.

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