Fathers and mothers who came to see their sons could not, since the handcuffed defendants were covering their heads with scraps of newspaper, plastic bags and towels to avoid the flashing cameras.
Publishing details concerning an ongoing investigation or trial that might influence the course of the proceedings is prohibited by both the Press Law 96/1996 and the Code of Ethics issued by the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate.
Last November, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood sent 17 new members to parliament, outnumbering the representatives of all the official opposition parties put together.
The 52 men, along with three others who were released without being officially charged, were arrested May 11 on the Queen Boat, a tourist boat moored on the Nile in Cairo.
The boat has long been a known gathering place for the Egyptian gay community. Although the Egyptian regime has been utterly unpredictable lately—most notably with the strangely harsh sentence for human rights advocate and dual Egyptian-US citizen Saad Eddin Ibrahim—observers agree that something must have impelled state security forces to raid a tourist discotheque at a time when Egypt's economy, which depends heavily on tourism revenue, is still struggling to overcome the fallout from the 1997 Luxor massacre.
But in May, official, opposition and independent newspapers published the names and professions of the 55 Queen Boat defendants; some front pages carried their pictures with the eyes crossed over in black.
On July 18, families of the defendants punched and kicked photographers who tried desperately to take pictures of the men before, during and after the court session. You fabricated the whole story," relatives shouted at journalists.
Two other sensational cases have also crowded out economic issues.
Days after the Queen Boat raid, a businessman was referred to the criminal court for having been married to 17 women.
The regime seems to have realized that suppression and persecution of Islamists will not uproot the Islamist threat unless it is combined with actions that bolster the state's religious legitimacy.
Egyptian human rights organizations have found themselves in an awkward position during the Queen Boat case.
After the July 18 court session, a beleaguered mother screamed: "He went out to buy me medicine when [the police] arrested him." This would explain the almost identical news reports published in the two weeks that followed the raid.
The reports, probably issued by state security sources, described rituals of a Satan-worshipping cult and public orgies allegedly taking place on the Queen Boat every Thursday night.
Later, the Egyptian delegation to the UN succeeded in deleting a sentence from the final declaration of the session, which mentioned gay men and lesbians as a vulnerable population at high risk for HIV infection.