CAIRO: Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered the detention of a woman interviewed by the BBC in a recent report that sparked controversy, alleging in a statement that she had committed the offense of spreading “false news.”
The woman, whom the public prosecutor named as Mona Mohammed, said in the report that security forces had forcibly disappeared her daughter last year, causing a strong backlash this week from Egyptian authorities.
The daughter was then interviewed on a nightly talk show days later where she denied the claim. Reuters was not able independently to verify either account.
The public prosecutor ordered Mohammed to be detained for 15 days pending investigations, the statement said. It said Mohammed had already been arrested by security forces in the days after the BBC report was published.
Egypt’s government press center said this week the BBC report was “fraught with lies” and called for a boycott of the British broadcaster. The BBC said: “We are aware of the reports about this BBC story on Egyptian TV and of the comments of the head of the State Information Service. We stand by the integrity of our reporting teams.”
Egypt has stepped up a crackdown on media outlets it deems to be publishing reports which might harm national security, as the country approaches a presidential election where President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is virtually guaranteed a second term, and the military fights to crush terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
The public prosecutor earlier this week urged action against outlets publishing what it called false news, and El-Sisi said defamation of the army or police was tantamount to treason.
"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.
"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."
Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked nation came together to remember those killed.
Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.
On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.
She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.
Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.
Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.
"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.
"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.
"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."
"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."
The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.
Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.
Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.
"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.
"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.
"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."
Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.
"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.
"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."