Tarek Mostafa Abd Al-Salam
Tarek Mostafa Abd Al-Salam was an Egyptian journalist and writer, born in the city of Suez, Egypt on July 21, 1985. He received his schooling at Suez Experimental School and later joined the Faculty of Media at the University of Cairo, graduating in 2006.
He began his professional career as an editor at "Rose El Youssef" magazine, where he worked in the arts department, quickly rising to become a supervisor of the department due to his proficiency and talent in journalism and media. Tarek also worked as part of the production team for the TV program "Al-Beit Beitak," which aired on Egyptian television from 2004 to 2010, gaining valuable experience in TV program production.
Since 2011, during the January revolution, Tarek's career witnessed a growing interest in human rights and the feminist movement. He actively engaged in human rights, LGBTQIA+ And feminist activism, working as the director of the Personal Freedoms program at Nazra for Feminist Studies.
In 2017, Tarek earned a Master's degree from the American University in Cairo in Women's and Gender Studies, thanks to his distinguished thesis titled " Men of Shoubra: Hairdressing, shades of masculinities, and ghosts of sectarianism." In September 2018, he moved to the United States to pursue his doctoral studies in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), providing him with opportunities to explore new cultures and experiences and expand his academic and professional horizons.
In addition to his academic and feminist work, Tarek was also known for his contributions to creative writing and film criticism from a feminist perspective. He facilitated various training workshops, and among his notable literary works was a collection of short stories titled "The Side Streets of El-Tahrir Square," published in 2012, which received praise from both critics and readers. Notably, the thinker and writer Nawal El Saadawi described it as "containing unique and impactful stories that speak for themselves."
Tarek's home in downtown Cairo, known as "Titi's House," was not merely a place of residence but also became a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ+ community who faced challenging circumstances and hardships due to their gender and sexual identity. Through his prominent role within the LGBTQ+ community, his home became an important space, especially during difficult times, such as the tragic incident of Lilian Project in 2017 and the loss of activist Sarah Hegazi.
In those tough moments for the LGBTQI+ community, Tarek provided support and solidarity to community members, striving to alleviate their suffering and offer necessary assistance. Consequently, "Titi's House" became a place where community members felt a sense of belonging and safety, allowing them to express their identities and challenges freely without fear of discrimination or persecution. This unique humanitarian initiative embodied Tarek's spirit of aid and cooperation in the face of adversity.
Tarek was actively involved in advocating for the rights of the LGBTQI+ community in Egypt, coordinating between various feminist and queer initiatives. He actively participated in seminars and training sessions, and was considered a person with a stance and scholarly contributions in the fields of gender and feminism, contributing to a deeper understanding of these crucial issues. Through his efforts, commitment, and spirit of aid and support for members of the LGBTQI+ community, Tarek became a symbol of solidarity and community support in facing social challenges. He highlighted the importance of caring for the rights of non-conforming individuals and providing assistance to foster a more tolerant and inclusive society.
Tarek wrote numerous art-related articles covering various forms of art during his time at "Rose El-Youssef" magazine. Notably, he penned an article about the film "طول عمري Toul Omry" (All My Life ) directed by Maher Sabry titled "Issues of Homosexuality in a Cinematic Film to Abdel Wahab's Song!" During an interview with him in 2020 on Arab Queer Radio, Tarek commented on this article, stating that it was the first time a national Egyptian newspaper used the word "homosexuals" instead of the derogatory term.
On the anniversary of the "Cairo 52" incident, Tarek wrote another article as a continuation of the previous one titled "Maher Sabry: Adam in the Land of Fear," which was published in "Atyaf," a queer organization focused on queer art and culture. In this letter, Tarek addressed Maher and expressed his admiration for his connection with Egypt and its people. He highlighted the legendary stories people shared about Maher, not because he conformed to societal norms that elevate those with the loudest voices, but because he was a complex human being with strengths, weaknesses, rights, wrongs, dreams, and illusions.
In the letter, Tarek shared a story about Maher, portraying him as a teenage protagonist during the "Cairo 52" incident at the age of 16, akin to Adam in the land of fear. Tarek emphasized that this reference to Adam does not imply that Maher is a prophet or untouchable, but rather that the most beautiful aspect of Adam's story is his sin, which upon closer examination was nothing more than a human curiosity to explore forbidden fruits. As an artist at heart, Tarek crafted the letter as a series of scenes depicting Maher's journey of heroism, dreams, friendship, and adventure, with Maher himself being the dream, friendship, and adventure personified.
The passing of Tarek Mustafa in July 2023 was a shock to the LGBTQ+ community, intellectuals, and activists in Egypt. Tarek was regarded as a unique role model with diverse interests in various research, cultural, and artistic fields, as well as a driving force in the human rights movement in Egypt.
WHRDMENA “coalition of defenders in the Middle East and North Africa Region ” mourned Tarek's loss, saying, "In 2013, while we were gathering and discussing the establishment of the alliance, Tarek witnessed these discussions and supported the formation of the alliance. He was always present in the background to help, think, discuss, and often reminded us that life can be sweet, and it was indeed sweet with him and in his company."
Internationally, the organization ANKH in France also mourned Tarek, stating, "Perhaps ANKH wouldn't exist today if there weren't people like him, advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and women."
Tarek Mustafa's legacy left a profound impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Egypt and beyond, and he will be remembered for his dedication to human rights, cultural contributions, and unwavering support for LGBTQI+ communities.