Five Egyptian women were sentenced on Monday to two years in prison for sharing dance videos on TikTok and Instagram described by the prosecution as “indecent, disgraceful and insulting.”
According to the Associated Press, the women were also fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $18,780 USD) each for “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family.”
According to the South China Morning Post, Hossam, a Cairo University student, was arrested in April after publishing an Instagram video in which she said that women could work with her and earn money by broadcasting on Singapore-based TikTok competitor Likee. Prosecutors interpreted that particular video as Hossam promoting online prostitution. Hossam was released on bail in June but was later arrested once more after prosecutors discovered new evidence.
“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,” an assistant for Eladhm’s lawyer told the Associated Press.
“Nothing she said in that video violated the law,” Hossam’s lawyer, Ahmed Abdelnaby said in court. “The video is proof of her innocence, not the opposite.”
According to The New York Times, Monday’s convictions were the first of a series of at least nine arrests since April of young Egyptian women with massive TikTok followings.
The Times notes that public prosecutors in Egypt are empowered to inflict such harsh punishment by a 2018 cybercrimes law that allows for prison sentences and fines for “digital content deemed to violate public morals.”
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