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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Egyptian belly dancer sentenced to prison for “sexually suggestive” assignments amid the repression of social media

A high profile Egyptian belly dancer was sentenced to three years in prison and received a £ 15,000 fine for sharing photos and videos of herself on social media that was believed to incite “debauchery” and “immorality” in a country with conservative social norms.

The Economic Court of Misdeeds in Cairo said Saturday that Sama El-Masry had violated the principles and values ​​of the family with assignments that the prosecution defined as sexually suggestive and that he had managed the social media accounts with the aim of committing “immorality. “.

Ms. El-Masry, who has over three million followers on Instagram, denied the allegations, saying the content was stolen and shared on her phone without consent.

She was arrested in April as part of an investigation into “suggestive” posts on social media during a wave of arrests of female Instagram and TikTok stars on charges of promoting debauchery and prostitution on social media.

“There is a huge difference between freedom and debauchery,” said John Talaat, a member of parliament who has filed a lawsuit against Ms. El-Masry and others. He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that Ms. El-Masry and the other social media influencers were destroying family values ​​and traditions, activities prohibited by law and constitution.

Talaat said that the other influencers should face the same prison sentences as Ms El-Masry in that they committed the same crime. The court also ordered the 42-year-old dancer to be put under police surveillance for three years, according to the Egypt Today news site.

Ms El-Masry says she wants to appeal the ruling.

Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2014, hundreds of journalists, activists, lawyers and intellectuals have been arrested in the name of state security.

The young stars of TikTok have become the ultimate target of the Egyptian state authorities. In May, a 17-year-old girl posted a TikTok video of herself crying, saying she had been raped by a group of young men. The authorities arrested her quickly and accused her of “promoting debauchery”.

Two years ago, Egypt introduced a cybercrime law that empowered the government to censor the Internet and conduct communications surveillance.

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