The Rainbow War: Pride Month in the Middle East Prompts Anger Over LGBTQ+ Symbols

Published June 25th, 2020 - 09:20 GMT
The Rainbow War: Pride Month in the Middle East Prompt Anger Over LGBTQ+ Symbols
Authorities in jordan's capital rushed to remove a rainbow graffiti in memory of an Egyptian prominent LGBT figure who committed suicide last week. (Twitter: @LGBTJordan)

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.

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."

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.

Translation: "Children channel Cartoon Network has changed its logo in support of the gay community."

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.

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."

Translation: "I'd like to voice out my rejection of the current logo and what it represents as it goes against religious values, nature, and humanity. It's very unfortunate for a professional network like LinkedIn to hit such a low level."

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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