Police cadets in Egypt have staged a bare-chested graduation ceremony in front of the country’s president involving recruits zip-wiring, jumping through a ring of knives and standing topless on a moving parade of armoured vehicles.
The performance in Cairo involved some 1,500 new cadets and was attended by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
The two-hour long display saw recruits withstand concrete blocks placed on top of them and shattered with sledgehammers while others were shown assembling weapons submerged at the bottom of a swimming pool.
At one point in the parade, dozens of shirtless men stood at attention on a multi-tiered platform fixed to the roofs of vans, cars and tanks being driven past spectators.
Some compared the spectacle of the bare-chested performing recruits, some of whom appeared to have applied oil to the torsos, to a gay pride event.
The parade also drew comparisons with the American disco group Village People, known for their flamboyant on-stage costumes.
“Is anyone checking up on Sisi's Egypt,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Egypt's Pride parade looks so good this year!!” tweeted another.
A third added: "The PHWOAR-ohs of Egypt! Egyptian military graduation ceremony or gay stripper parade? You decide."
“This Egyptian police parade of graduating officers nearly made me spit out my breakfast. Clearly irony doesn’t exist in Egypt either. Still as their first gay pride event, not a bad attempt,” wrote another.
The camp overtones were presumably unintended, however, as Egyptian authorities – including the police – continue to target LGBT+ people, according to NGOs.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report earlier this month that Egyptian police and National Security Agency officers were arbitrarily arresting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and detaining them in inhuman conditions, and systematically subjecting them to ill-treatment including torture, as well as inciting fellow inmates to abuse them.
“Security forces routinely pick people off the streets based solely on their gender expression, entrap them through social networking sites and dating applications, and unlawfully search their phones,” HRW said.
“Prosecutors use this content to justify prolonged detentions as they rubber-stamp police reports and bring unjustified prosecutions against them.”
Human Rights Watch said it had documented cases of torture, including severe and repeated beatings and sexual violence in police custody, often under the guise of forced anal exams or “virginity tests”.
There have been increased prosecutions in Egypt for alleged same-sex conduct since the country launched an anti-LGBT+ crackdown triggered by the raising of a gay pride flag at a Mashrou’ Leila music concert in Cairo in 2017.