Female influencer jailed for prostitution over TikTok dance videos in sixth such case within a week in Egypt
She was arrested earlier this month on charges of 'inciting debauchery, immorality and stirring up instincts' through her content
A judicial source in Egypt has revealed how a court sentenced the sixth woman in a week over TikTok videos, saying her performances on the popular app were "inciting debauchery." Manar Samy's three-year imprisonment is the latest in a series of similar rulings in Egypt against females who are popular on social media, especially on image and video sharing apps TikTok and Instagram, according to Agence France-Presse.
According to a prosecution statement, Samy was arrested earlier this month on charges of "inciting debauchery, immorality and stirring up instincts" through her content. Her videos, which show her dancing and lip-syncing to pop music, were deemed by prosecutors to be "offensive to public decency" and that they were posted "with the aim of committing prostitution".
The verdict, according to a judicial source, can be appealed against and "includes a fine of 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($19,000)." The insider said Samy's bail was set at 20,000 pounds ($1,252). Speaking to AFP, her lawyer Hani Basyoni said the "bail has been paid but her release could be postponed until after the Eid al-Adha holiday ends on Monday" and added that an appeal hearing had been scheduled for August 15.
This comes after another court in the country is reported to have sentenced five female social media influencers to two years each in prison over their TikTok content. Two of them were identified as Haneen Hossam and Mowada al-Adham. "In their short videos on the app, the young women appear doing satirical lip-syncs, comedic skits, dance videos, and voice-overs — content that is widely popular around the world on the mobile app," AFP reported.
Authorities arrested Hossam in April after she posted a short clip on social media saying girls earn well by working with her. However, her message was reportedly interpreted as a call for prostitution. Adham was arrested in May after sharing satirical videos on both TikTok and Instagram. Recent actions by the deeply conservative country have rekindled a fiery debate over individual freedoms and social norms imposed by the state.
However, the crackdown is not unusual in Egypt. In recent years, several belly dancers and pop singers have been pulled up by authorities over content they deemed "too racy or suggestive." An Egyptian court sentenced dancer Sama al-Mastry to three years in prison last month for allegedly "inciting 'debauchery' on social media over posts deemed sexually suggestive."
A number of legal experts and activists have pointed out loosely worded offenses that are used in the government's crackdown on individual freedoms. "The charges of spreading debauchery or violating family values are very loose... and its definition is broad," Rights lawyer Intissar al-Saeed previously told AFP. The crackdown on individual freedom in Egypt became worse after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office in 2014, rights groups have said.
The country has, in recent years, enforced highly restrictive internet controls via legislation that allows authorities to block any website deemed to be a national security threat as well as closely monitor civilian social media accounts with over 5,000 followers.