Sama El-Masry, A high-profile Egyptian belly dancer, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined £15,000 for posting photos and videos on social media that allegedly incited “debauchery” and “immorality.”
On Saturday, Cairo’s Misdemeanors Economic Court stated that El-Masry violated family principles and values with her posts, which the public prosecution called sexually suggestive. The prosecution maintained that she had managed her social media accounts with the objective of committing “immorality.”
El-Masry, who has more than three million followers on Instagram, denied the accusations, and claimed that the content had been stolen and shared from her phone without her consent.
El-Masry’s arrest in April was part on an investigation into “suggestive” social media posts. A number of female TikTok and Instagram stars have been arrested on charges of promoting prostitution and debauchery on social media.
John Talaat, a member of parliament who called for legal action to be taken against El-Masry and others, said: “There is a huge difference between freedom and debauchery.” He told Thomson Reuters Foundation that El-Masry and the other social media influencers were responsible for destroying family values and traditions, which is banned by the law and the constitution.
Talaat stated that the other influencers would be facing the same prison sentence as El-Masry since they had committed the same crime. According to Egypt Today, the court also ordered the 42-year-old to be placed under police surveillance for three years.
El-Masry stated that she would appeal the sentence.
Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014, hundreds of activists, journalists, lawyers and intellectuals have been placed under arrest under claims of state security.
Now, young TikTok stars have become the target of Egyptian state authorities. A 17-year-old girl posted a TikTok video in May, crying as she revealed that she had been gang-raped by a group of young men. She was later arrested and charged with “promoting debauchery.”
Egypt implemented a cybercrime law two years ago, which gave the government power to conduct communications surveillance and censor the internet.