Five female Egyptian influencers have been sentenced to two years in prison for sharing ‘indecent videos’ on TikTok.
Haneen Hossam, 20, Mawada al-Adham, 22, and three others who haven’t been named were charged with violating public morals after posting content to the ubiquitous video app.
Echoing long-condemned, outdated legislation across the Middle East, their arrests come as part of Egyptian authorities’ campaign against social media influencers, in an effort to further police the behaviour of women.
As reported by state-owned website al-Ahram, each of the women were fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (£14,600). Their ruling, which can be appealed, accused them of ‘violating the values and principles of Egyptian society and posting indecent photos and videos disturbing to public morals’.
As per The Guardian, women’s rights lawyer Intissar al-Saeed called it a ‘shocking’ verdict, ‘though it was expected. We will see what happens on appeal’. She added: ‘It is still a dangerous indicator… regardless of the divergent views on the content presented by the girls on TikTok, it still is not a reason for imprisonment.’
Hossam, an archaeology student at Cairo University, was arrested back in April after posting a three-minute clip to her 1.3 million followers explaining that other girls should post videos of themselves to Likee, an app that pays users based on the number of views they receive.
Prosecutors accused Hossam of inviting young women to sell sex online. As reported by The New York Times, her lawyer, Ahmed Abdelnaby, said: ‘Nothing she said in that video violated the law. The video is proof of her innocence, not the opposite.’
@haniinhossam11وحشتوني اول فيديو بعد ٤ شهور غياب مفيش وحشتينا؟🥀❣️##هرم_مصر♬ original sound – haniinhossam11
Al-Adham, who has 3.2 million followers on the platform, was criticised by prosecutors for ‘disgraceful and insulting’ videos and ‘spreading fake news’, all of which were simply satirical. Her older sister, Rahma el-Adham, told Cairo Now: ‘They have destroyed us, they have destroyed an entire family.’
In Egypt, a number of people have been sent to jail for social media posts deemed unacceptable by authorities, whether they be ‘indecent’ or overly critical President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At least 500 news websites have also been blocked.
With social media being such an open space for expression, Egypt often considers it a threat against ‘society’s traditions and morals’, striving to monitor and restrict its freedoms in recent years.
Just last month, belly dancer Sama al-Masry was sentenced to three years for ‘inciting debauchery’ after posting a video to TikTok. Al-Saeed explained: ‘The charges of spreading debauchery or violating family values are very loose… and its definition is broad.’
Egypt’s national security laws also allows for the monitoring of social media accounts that have more than 5,000 followers, placing influencers under a perilous scope.
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The New York Times