Cairo, July 28
An Egyptian court docket sentenced a number of younger ladies to 2 years in jail Monday for posting “indecent” dance movies on TikTok in a fraught case that critics describe as an extra crackdown on self-expression within the conservative society.
The ladies had been additionally fined 300,000 Egyptian kilos (almost $19,000) every for “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family,” inciting debauchery and selling human trafficking, in line with an announcement from the general public prosecutor.
Their attorneys vowed to attraction the ruling.
The prosecution assertion named simply two of the defendants—20-year-old scholar Haneen Hossam and 22-year-old Mawada Eladhm—and mentioned the opposite three helped run their social media accounts.
Both ladies not too long ago vaulted to TikTok fame, amassing tens of millions of followers for his or her video snippets set to catchy Egyptian club-pop tracks. In their respective 15-second clips, the ladies sporting make-up pose in automobiles, dance in kitchens and joke in skits — acquainted and seemingly tame content material for the platform.
But their social media stardom turned their undoing in Egypt, the place residents can land in jail for obscure crimes akin to “misusing social media,” “disseminating fake news,” or “inciting debauchery and immorality.” Eladhm’s lawyer, Ahmed el-Bahkeri, confirmed the sentencing.
The prosecution deemed Eladhm’s photographs and movies “disgraceful and insulting.” “Eladhm was crying in court. Two years? 300,000 Egyptian pounds? This is really something very tough to hear,” mentioned Samar Shabana, the legal professional’s assistant.
“They just want followers. They are not part of any prostitution network, and did not know this is how their message would be perceived by prosecutors,” she added, in reference to their posts encouraging younger ladies to share movies and chat with strangers in change for cash on one other social media platform.
Although Egypt stays way more liberal than Gulf Arab states, the Muslim-majority nation has swung in a decidedly conservative course over the previous half-century.
Belly dancers, pop divas and social media influencers have confronted backlash for violating the norms.
The string of arrests for “moral issues” is extra broadly a part of a clampdown on private freedoms that has accelerated since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi got here to energy in 2013.
A extensively circulated on-line petition described the arrests as a “systematic crackdown that targets low-income women,” and urged authorities to free the 9 younger ladies detained in latest months for posting TikTok movies.
Monday’s sentencing was the primary.
Over the previous weeks, the difficulty of ladies’s rights has galvanised nationwide consideration in Egypt.
Dozens of accusations of serial sexual assault on the nation’s most elite college has prompted disbelief, outrage and an unprecedented outpouring of assist, changing into Egypt’s reply to the #MeToo motion.
But whether or not the firestorm could have a long-term impression on ladies’s freedom in Egypt stays to be seen.
Critics say state prosecutors’ willingness to come back down so severely on the TikTok ladies, who have a tendency to come back from lower-income households during which conventional values are firmly entrenched, has raised doubts that the motion can reduce throughout the nation’s stark class traces.–AP