Paris – On Monday 27 July, 2020, a court in Cairo sentenced TikTok influencers, Mawada Al-Adham, Haneen Hossam and three other women who are yet to be named to two years in prison and a 300,000 Egyptian pound (€16,000) fine.
The women were found guilty of “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family,” “human trafficking,” “sharing videos that incite immorality in order to increase their viewership and followers” and “encouraging teenage girls to publicly share videos to theirs in terms of immorality.” The three women who have not been named were also accused of engaging in inappropriate video calls with men.
Over the last few months, Egyptian authorities have been targeting female social media influencers as part of the regime’s crackdown on silencing the opposition. In April 2020, Haneen Hossam was accused of “inciting debauchery” after posting a video that encouraged young women to make money through live streaming. Drawing many hateful and sexist comments online, many accused her of promoting prostitution.
22-year-old Mawada Al-Adham was detained by authorities after posting videos that claimed to violate societal principles. She has also been accused of establishing and managing accounts on social media with the aim to promote acts which violate the “family principles and values of Egyptian society.” Egypt’s Ministry of Interior declared that Eladhm was arrested on charges of “violating family values” and “establishing, managing and using websites and social media accounts with the aim of committing those crimes.”
The verdict however has sparked backlash on social media with many calling the debauchery and immorality charges a severe injustice. A digital campaign calling for the immediate release of all the women arrested and sentenced has been gaining in popularity. The campaign lists the names of the nine women and calls on Egypt to stop criminalizing diversity and to stop the systematic and organized crackdown of women on TikTok. Haneen Hossam, Mawada Al-Adham, Renad Emad, Menna Abdel Aziz, Sherry Hanem, Nora Hesham, Manar Samy, Hadeer Hady and Bassant Mohamed are all facing immorality charges.
AFDH said in a statement today, “Denying these women the right to their bodies and freedom of expression through social media is a violation of their human rights and digital freedom rights.”
Egypt’s law surrounding its society’s morals and traditions is often used very broadly and in a large spectrum of offences which allows authorities to make vague charges.
The court’s ruling has the opportunity to be appealed.