Egypt court jails belly dancer for ‘debauchery’ in social media crackdown

Sama El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 June 2020

Egypt court jails belly dancer for ‘debauchery’ in social media crackdown

  • Sama El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok
  • Several women in Egypt have previously been accused of "inciting debauchery" by challenging the country's conservative social norms

CAIRO: A high-profile Egyptian belly-dancer, Sama el-Masry, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,500) on Saturday for inciting debauchery and immorality as part of a crackdown on social media postings.
El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, that the public prosecution described as sexually suggestive.
The dancer, 42, denied the accusations, saying the content was stolen and shared from her phone without consent.
Cairo's Misdemeanours Economic Court on Saturday said she 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 huge difference between freedom and debauchery," said John Talaat, a member of parliament who asked for legal action against el-Masry and other female TikTok participants.
Talaat told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that el-Masry and the other female social media influencers were destroying family values and traditions, activities that were banned by the law and the constitution.
El-Masry said she 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 took against her choice of dress for the Cairo Film Festival in 2018.
In 2018 Egypt adopted a cyber crime law that grants the government full authority to censor the internet and exercise communication surveillance.
The law carries penalties of imprisonment of 2 years minimum and a fine of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds.
A group of female TikTok and Instagram influencers and YouTubers have been arrested by the Egyptian authorities in recent months on charges of promoting debauchery and prostitution on social media.
Talaat said those influencers were expected to face the same prison terms as el-Masry as they had committed the same crime.
The Egyptian government was not available for immediate comment.
Entessar el-Saeed, a women rights lawyer and head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, said women are the only category targeted by the authorities according to this law.
"Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn ‘helping everyone who stood by him’

Updated 7 min 2 sec ago

Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn ‘helping everyone who stood by him’

  • Ghosn made a dramatic escape from house arrest in Japan, where he was awaiting trial, and fled to Beirut, his childhood home
  • Ghosn has refused to discuss details of his escape from Japan, saying it would put in danger those who helped him

BEIRUT: Former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn is helping everyone who stood by him, he said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, though he declined to comment on cases of people accused of helping him flee to Lebanon from Japan.
Ghosn, the ex-chairman of an automaking alliance of Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. was arrested in Japan in late 2018 on charges of underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal purpose — charges he denies.
In late December, he made a dramatic escape from house arrest in Japan, where he was awaiting trial, and fled to Beirut, his childhood home.
Japan has asked the United States to extradite US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor, who are accused of helping Ghosn flee and were arrested in May.
Asked in an interview with Al Arabiya TV if he was trying to help the Taylors and others involved in his escape, Ghosn said: “You are talking about specific people, and I will not comment on those people who you are singling out.
“What I’m saying is that I am helping everyone who helped me; I’m helping them with my means, with my thinking, and in any way I can,” he said. “I am not talking about those people you mentioned specifically,” he said, adding that he was talking about people who helped him “in general.”
Ghosn has refused to discuss details of his escape from Japan, saying it would put in danger those who helped him.
A US judge said on Friday that Michael and Peter Taylor posed too great of a flight risk to be released on bail given the “spectacular” allegations against them.
Ghosn told Al Arabiya he made “the entire plan” for his escape but he had needed information and assistance from people whom he was not ready to endanger by talking about the matter.
Earlier this month, an executive from a Turkish private jet operator, four pilots and two flight attendants appeared in court on charges of helping to smuggle Ghosn via Istanbul.
Ghosn also said Japan had yet to send his case file to Lebanon as requested by the Lebanese government. “It has been six months and they haven’t sent the file. Why haven’t they sent the file?“