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Egyptian TikTok influencer charged with 'spreading debauchery' granted bail

Egyptian TikTok influencer charged with 'spreading debauchery' released on bail
3 min read
29 July, 2020
Manar Samy has been released on bail, suspending her three-year prison sentence for posting dance videos on TikTok, which led her to be charged with 'spreading debauchery'
Manar Samy is the sixth TikToker to receive a prison sentence this week [Twitter]
Egyptian social media star Manar Samy has been released on 20,000 Egyptian Pounds bail ($1,250)  after being convicted of "spreading immorality and debauchery" for posting videos of her singing and dancing on social media platform TikTok.

A court in Tanta sentenced Samy to a three-year prison sentence and fine of 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,000), following her arrest on 1 June.

The young influencer fainted when the sentence was read out, according to Egyptian media, however, Samy's lawyer said her family paid the bail money allowing her sentence to be suspended.

Samy is one of a number of young women in Egypt to be arrested and charged with "immorality" over content posted on the popular video-sharing platform.

Rights activists have said the arrests are part of a state crackdown on working-class young women and free expression.

Samy's arrest was prompted by a lawyer who filed a case against her after seeing her lip-syncing and dancing videos, claiming they were an "indecent" attempt to gain popularity and make money.

Samy is the sixth woman in a week to be sentenced to prison over TikTok videos.

Wednesday's ruling came days after another court sentenced five female social media influencers - Haneen Hossam, Mowada Al-Adham and three others - to two years each in jail, over content posted to TikTok.

In their short videos that appeared on the platform, the young women attempted satirical lip-syncs, comedic skits, dance videos and voice-overs - content that is popular around the world on the mobile app.

Hossam was arrested in April after posting a short clip on social media saying that girls could make money by working with her, a message that was interpreted as a call for "prostitution".

In May, authorities arrested Adham, who had posted satirical videos on TikTok and Instagram.

Despite the furore over the latest clampdown, women in the Egyptian public eye - including belly dancers and pop singers - have been repeatedly targeted in recent years over online content deemed too racy or suggestive.

Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced belly dancer Sama Al-Masry to three years in jail for inciting "debauchery" on social media over posts deemed sexually suggestive.

Activists and legal experts have long criticised the crackdown on individual freedoms, which uses loosely worded offences to target women and other minorities.

Rights groups say more freedoms have been curtailed in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took office in 2014.

Egypt has in recent years enforced strict internet controls through laws allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with over 5,000 followers.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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