The Sisi regime has stifled free speech, including on social media, on the grounds of political opposition and purported ‘obscenity’.
An Egyptian court handed out five prison sentences to five female social media celebrities over allegations they posted “indecent content” and fell afoul of public morality.
A judge also issued fines worth up to $19,000 to each of the women, including TikTok influencers Haneen Hossam and Mowada al Adham.
Hossam was charged with promoting an app that encouraged women to talk to men, receiving a commission payment for each affiliated download.
Adham is alleged to have shared indecent photos of herself.
A lawyer for one of the accused described the court’s decision as “shocking but expected”.
TikTok, a Chinese-made video sharing application, has earned itself a lot of enemies since it was founded in December 2016, having been banned in India amid tensions with Beijing and on the receiving end of threats to do the same from US President Donald Trump over his own shaky relations with the Chinese.
Nevertheless, the Egyptian episode represents a more deeply rooted campaign against supposed immorality in the country.
In June, Egyptian bellydancer Sama el Masry was also given a three-year sentence for allegedly inciting debauchery.
Prosecutors said that Masry had shared “sexually suggestive” content on platforms including TikTok but the dancer claimed that the content had been stolen from her and shared without her permission.
In an earlier incident in 2018, actress Rania Youssef, was the subject of a lawsuit that could have landed her with a five year sentence for wearing a revealing dress to a Cairo film award ceremony. In her case, charges were later dropped.
Egyptian dictator, Abdel Fattah el Sisi, justified his 2013 coup both domestically and internationally on the claim that Egypt’s only freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was trying to introduce a hardline interpretation of Islamic law.
The years since Morsi’s ouster have seen Sisi’s judicial system regularly go after those accused of immorality, especially women.