TikTok puts Egyptian women in big trouble

Both women recently vaulted to TikTok fame, amassing millions of followers for their video snippets set to catchy Egyptian club-pop tracks. In their respective 15-second clips, the women wearing makeup pose in cars, dance in kitchens and joke in skits - familiar and seemingly tame content for the platform

AgenciesUpdated: Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 10:51 PM IST
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A woman watches a video of influencer Mowada al-Adham, who was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of violation of public morals on TikTok in Cairo. | PIC: AFP

An Egyptian court sentenced several young women to two years in prison Monday for posting "indecent" dance videos on TikTok in a fraught case that critics describe as a further crackdown on self-expression in the conservative society.

The women were also fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (nearly $19,000) each for "violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family," inciting debauchery and promoting human trafficking, according to a statement from the public prosecutor. Their lawyers vowed to appeal the ruling.

The prosecution statement named just two of the defendants - 20-year-old student Haneen Hossam and 22-year-old Mawada Eladhm - and said the other three helped run their social media accounts.

Both women recently vaulted to TikTok fame, amassing millions of followers for their video snippets set to catchy Egyptian club-pop tracks. In their respective 15-second clips, the women wearing makeup pose in cars, dance in kitchens and joke in skits - familiar and seemingly tame content for the platform.

But their social media stardom became their undoing in Egypt, where citizens can land in prison for vague crimes such as "misusing social media," "disseminating fake news," or "inciting debauchery and immorality." Eladhm's lawyer, Ahmed el-Bahkeri, confirmed the sentencing.

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