Egyptian court sentences pop star Sherine to six months in prison for Nile remarks

Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel Wahab sentenced to six months in prison on Tuesday for suggesting drinking from the Nile River leads to illness. (Facebook)
Updated 01 March 2018
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Egyptian court sentences pop star Sherine to six months in prison for Nile remarks

CAIRO: An Egyptian court sentenced pop star Sherine to six months in prison on Tuesday for suggesting drinking from the Nile River leads to illness, although she will remain free pending an appeal.
Sherine Abdel Wahab, known simply as Sherine, had apologized after being caught on tape joking with concert goers that Nile water could give them parasites.
Moqattam Misdemeanor Court sentenced the pop star to the prison term, as well as fining her 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($566) as a civil compensation, with a bail of 5,000 pounds, on charges of insulting Egypt.
The singer did not attend Tuesday’s court session. 
The Syndicate of Musical Professions had previously suspended the singer from singing and performing in Egypt for two months, until January 14, 2018. Judicial officials said she would remain free on bail pending an appeal.
Sherine is one of the region’s best known singers. She is also an actor and hosted the Arabic version of singing contest The Voice.
In the video recording of the concert, Sherine is asked by a fan to sing her tune “Have You Ever Drunk From the Nile.”
She responds that drinking from the river could cause “bilharzia,” a name for the parasitic disease schistosomiasis which was once widespread in Egypt.
“Drink Evian instead,” she joked.
She later apologized in a Facebook posting.
Another signer, Laila Amer, was sentenced to two years for inciting “debauchery and immorality” with a music video in which she plays a downtrodden but belly-dancing housewife complaining to her husband about his bossy mother. The name of the song, “Bos Omak,” is a play on words with a popular Arabic profanity.
The charges are not uncommon in matters of morality in Egypt.
Muslim-majority Egypt has steadily grown more conservative over the past half century, although it maintains relatively vibrant arts and music scenes and is far more liberal than Gulf Arab countries.
In December, another female singer named Shaimaa Ahmed faced similar charges to Amer over what was deemed racy content, being sentenced to two years in prison, reduced to one year on appeal.


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.