Egyptian police are uing social media to find and arrest gay people, according to local first-hand accounts.
While homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, people have been arrested for public acts of homosexuality, which is seen as indecent. But dozens of LGBT people are now saying Egyptian police are using dating applications like Grindr to entrap, arrest and torture them, France24 reported.
Some of the apps are GPS-enabled, which makes those who use them easier to track. France24 published several accounts from victims collected by Egyptian gay right activists.
"In the current climate, I no longer dare to use applications to meet people," reads one account from a man under the name Karim Ahmad. "Undercover police agents use the applications to set up meetings with gays in cafes. It's a trap."
Ahmad said that is exactly how a friend of his was arrested last week.
"I still haven't heard from him," he wrote.
At least 77 gay and lesbian people say they have been arrested since October 2013, prompting gay rights activists to publish warnings against using apps like Gay Dating, Scruff and Hornit.
"In Egypt, there is a kind of religious fascism. People think that gays are perverts, that they have no morals and that they only think about sex all the time," Ahmad wrote.
The manhunt has extended to police raids on gay hangout spots as well as private homes, according to gay rights activist Samia A. She believes the manhunt and arrests were triggered by the recent shift in political power.
"Since President [Abdel Fattah el-Sisi] came to power, he has wanted to show Egyptians that he is as conservative as the ousted Muslim Brotherhood," Samia A. said according to The Independent.
Egypt's LGBT community has decided to also use social media to call for an end to the persecution. The Facebook campaign, of which Samia A. is a part of, warns others about places surveilled by the police and hold counseling sessions for those struggling with their sexuality.
Samia A. hopes the campaign will one day gain the attention of nongovernmental organizations to help pressure Egyptian authorities into treating them with respect.
"All we're asking is to live with diginity," she wrote.