Celebrating Pride Month, several media networks online and on TV have chosen to add rainbow flags to their logos, in support of the LGBTQ+ communities across the world, but in a conservative region like the Middle East, reactions are yet not exactly welcoming.
رسمياً: شبكة Nickelodeon تعلن أن الشخصية الكارتونية الشهيرة والمحبوبة "سبونج بوب" عبارة عن شخصية مثلية الجنس! pic.twitter.com/hmPvLmKczt— Screen Mix (@ScreenMix) June 13, 2020
Translation: "Officially; Nickelodeon reveals that its famous and popular cartoon character Spongebob is gay."
Children TV network Nickelodeon celebrated Pride Month by featuring several of its characters, whom they called "LGBTQ+ community and their allies." Being one of the most loved characters, reacting to Spongebob in rainbow colors, many Arab commentators "condemned" the network and accused it of "introducing foreign ideas to their children."
Why break our childhood— Nadin Yasser (@NadinYasser6) June 23, 2020
A few days later, Cartoon Network added the rainbow color to its logo stirring a similar debate, even though the Arabic-speaking channel didn't add the LGBTQ+ symbol.
قناة الأطفال “Cartoon Network “ تقوم بتغيير شعارها دعمًا للمثليين..! pic.twitter.com/OVxM6iABZ4— We Heard Rumors (@whrumor) June 24, 2020
Translation: "Children channel Cartoon Network has changed its logo in support of the gay community."
بداية سبونج بوب الي هوة اسفنجة أصلا و تكاثره لاجنسي سووه مثلي وهلأ قناة cn، هدول أطفال ايش بدهم فيهم؟الموضوع صار فيه تعدي عالحريات وكأنه غصب الكل يتقبل هالشي بدون احترام لا لأديان ولا لثقافات بشكل مقزز،لو عنيتفليكس ما بحكي اشي بس جد الأطفال ما لازم يفكرو بهالأشياء على انها طبيعية— Ranjin²³ , Most perfect face jin (@5e0kj1nr1) June 24, 2020
Translation: "It started with a gay Spongebob even though it's a sponge whose reproduction is asexual, and now it's CN. What do they want to do with those kids? It's increasingly violating freedoms as if everyone has to accept them regardless of religion or culture, it's become disgusting. If this was on Netflix I wouldn't mind but kids shouldn't take this as a norm."
This month has witnessed numerous online debates on LGBTQ+ issues amongst Middle Easterners, especially after the suicide of prominent Egyptian activist Sarah Hegazy, who had suffered depression following her arrest and torture by the police.
Hegazy was arrested in Egypt after waving the rainbow flag in a musical concert and was only able to leave the country for Canada in 2018.
Graffiti of Sarah and the words she used to end her suicide note spread across the Jordanian capital Amman before authorities rushed to remove them in the span of a few hours.
Jordanian social media users took the chance to urge the city's public services to fix broken streets by adding a rainbow flag on photos they posted online, saying that "rainbows seem to be the only way to get local officials to act on real issues".
Translation: "Hope you do something about this asap."
Social media users also noted that Sarah Hegazy's page on Wikipedia was removed for a few hours by editors, who claimed that "she's not a notable person" before other editors brought her page back to the website.
Sarah Hegazi's Arabic @Wikipedia page was successfully deleted by the hateful mods there, although there are English, German, and multiple other languages available.— Teja ? (@die_Teja) June 22, 2020
But the language she wrote in, and official language of her country, nope, not allowed.@wikilgbt @ArabicWikipedia
Similarly, users of the professional networking platform LinkedIn protested the rainbow flag recently added to the website's logo, arguing that they don't agree with it and "would like to keep the platform's focus on jobs, careers, and professional growth."
خلوها صورة بروفايل عندكم لمدة!— The Pilot (@Aubdoul) June 24, 2020
قوم لوط وليس لهم غير هذا الاسم يحطون اعلامهم وصور الرينبو في ملفاتهم الشخصية وفي كل تغريدة لهم
بس كذا طفح الكيل pic.twitter.com/7u1Jw7EXEg
Translation: "Use this as a profile picture for a while. They are using their flags and rainbow photos in every post and we've had enough."
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