Sama el-Masry, a high-profile Egyptian dancer, has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($ 18,500) for inciting debauchery and immorality as part of an offensive against social media posts.
El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, which the prosecution described as sexually suggestive.
The 42-year-old dancer denied the allegations, saying the content was stolen and shared from her phone without consent.
The Cairo Economic Court for Small Crimes said Saturday that it had violated family principles and values in Egypt, as well as establishing, managing and using sites and accounts on social media with the aim of committing “immorality.”
“There is a big difference between liberty and debauchery,” said John Talaat, a member of parliament who called for legal action against el-Masry and other women TikTok participants.
Talaat told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that el-Masry and the other influential women on social media were destroying family values and traditions, activities that were prohibited by law and the constitution.
El-Masry said he would appeal.
Several women in Egypt have previously been accused of “inciting debauchery” by challenging the country’s conservative social norms, including actress Rania Youssef, after critics opposed her choice of dress for the Cairo Film Festival in 2018.
In 2018, Egypt adopted a cybercrime law that gives the government full authority to censor the Internet and exercise oversight of communication.
The law carries a minimum prison sentence of two years and a fine of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($ 18,500).
A group of influential women from TikTok and Instagram and YouTubers have been arrested by Egyptian authorities in recent months accused of promoting debauchery and prostitution on social media.
Talaat said those influencers were expected to face the same prison terms as el-Masry, since they had committed the same crime.
The Egyptian government was not available for immediate comment.
Entessar el-Saeed, a women’s rights lawyer and director of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, said that women are the only category targeted by the authorities under this law.
“Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes that have created a completely different environment and mindset,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Reuters news agency