Officials free Lebanese woman jailed for insulting Egypt

Egyptian authorities deported a Lebanese woman who was jailed for insulting Egyptians in a video she posted online, days after she was sentenced to a suspended one-year sentence. (Photo: Facebook)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Officials free Lebanese woman jailed for insulting Egypt

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities deported a Lebanese woman who was jailed for insulting Egyptians in a video she posted online, days after she was sentenced to a suspended one-year sentence, her lawyer and airport officials said.
Mona El-Mazbouh was deported Thursday. She was arrested in May after she posted a 10-minute video in which she used profanities to describe her vacation in Cairo, where she said she was sexually harassed. She calls Egyptians the “dirtiest people.” She later posted a video apologizing, saying “I definitely didn’t mean to offend all Egyptians.”
In July, the 24-year-old el-Mazabou was sentenced to 11 years in prison but the sentence was later reduced to eight years. A higher court earlier this month approved her appeal and handed her a suspended one-year sentence.
She was released and boarded a flight with her family to Lebanon late Thursday after paying a fine of 10,700 Egyptian pounds (around $598), her lawyer Emad Kamal said.
Airport officials confirmed her deportation. They said El-Mazbouh arrived at the airport with police directly after she was released. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
El-Mazbouh posted on her Facebook account photos of her arrival at Beirut International Airport. “It was a nice experience. ... I was there (in prison) for three months and a half ... that’s it. I am good, thanks God,” she said in a posted video.
In her first video, El-Mazbouh said she was sexually harassed by taxi drivers and young men in Cairo. She also said her money was stolen at some point during her vacation.

She was arrested after the video went viral and accused by authorities of “deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions.”
Sexual harassment, mostly ranging from catcalls to occasional pinching or grabbing, is rampant in Egypt. Polls have found that a majority of both men and women in the conservative Muslim country believe it is justified if women dress “provocatively” in public.
The problem of sexual harassment in Egypt gained worldwide attention during and after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, when women were harassed, groped and, in some cases, beaten and sexually assaulted during mass protests.
A study released last year by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Cairo as the most dangerous megacity in the world for women. President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi questioned its findings, but acknowledged in TV comments last November that “there is sexual harassment in Egypt. There is a big percentage, but not to say it is the worst.”
Another last year by UN Women and Promundo, a non-governmental organization, found that nearly 60 percent of Egyptian women say they have been sexually harassed, and nearly 65 percent of men acknowledge harassing women, though they mainly admitted to ogling.
The poll, which surveyed 1,380 men and 1,402 women in five governorates, found that 74 percent of men — and 84 percent of women — agreed that “women who dress provocatively deserve to be harassed.” Forty-three percent of men said women “like the attention” when men harass them.
Only 20 percent of women said they did.


UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

Updated 58 min 20 sec ago
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UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

  • Cohen accused Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, of threatening international peace and security
  • Danon alleged that Iran funnels $7 billion to militant groups across the region

UNITED NATIONS: The UN's envoy to the Mideast said Tuesday that peacekeepers in Lebanon have not been given access to tunnels stretching into Israel, which UN officials say violate a case-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL has confirmed that two tunnels crossed the UN-drawn Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, but “has not been granted access to the confirmed entry points of a tunnel near Kfar Kila on the Lebanese side.”
He did not say whether Lebanon’s government or the Hezbollah militant group was blocking access for UNIFIL, but US deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen blamed the government.
Cohen accused Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, of threatening international peace and security with the extensive tunneling exposed by Israel, which has reported uncovering six tunnels into its territory.
“We commend UNIFIL’s work to keep the Blue Line under control, but it is unacceptable that the Lebanese government has not yet given UNIFIL access to the tunnel entrance on their side of the Blue Line,” Cohen told the council.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon complained to the council that “the Lebanese army has taken no action in response, allowing Hezbollah to continue building these tunnels undisturbed.”
Danon alleged that Iran funnels $7 billion to militant groups across the region, including $1 billion to Hezbollah, which he said has “grand plans to take over the Israeli Galilee” and invests millions in every tunnel. He provided no information on how Israel calculated its estimate of Iranian spending, which also included $4 billion to the Syrian government, “hundreds of millions” to Iran’s proxies in Iraq, tens of millions to Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen, $70 million to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and $50 million to Hamas, which controls Gaza.
Mladenov noted that Lebanon has been without a government for over eight months and called on all parties to resolve their differences so the country “can address the man pressing challenges it faces, including that of a struggling economy.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mladenov said that “we should have no illusions about the dangerous dynamics ... which continue to unfold before our eyes” and have eroded “the possibility of establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.”
He pointed to Israel’s latest new settlement plans and approvals, nearly half to be built deep in the West Bank, which the Palestinians say must be part of their state. He also cited “additional attempts to pass legislation that would directly apply Israeli law to the territory of the occupied West Bank, raising fears of future annexation.”
Mladenov said the chance for peace opened more than 25 years ago with the Oslo accords, which were enshrined in UN resolutions and bilateral agreements, but has “eroded as the prospect for credible negotiations has dimmed, only to be replaced by the lack of hope and the growing risk of a one-state reality of perpetual occupation.”
He urged both sides to recommit to the principles in those agreements — that key issues can be resolved only through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, told the council that last year “Israel’s illegal occupation became more entrenched, more brutal and extreme” with the political process “deadlocked.”
“Day by day, the occupation is destroying the two-state solution and sowing deep despair among our people,” he said.
But despite “the dismal situation,” Mansour said, Palestinians “remain committed to non-violence, dialogue and the objectives of peace” and negotiations on a two-state solution. He urged regional and international efforts “to help overcome the impasse and contribute to the realization of a just solution as a matter of urgency.”