Egyptian Influential Women on Social Media at Risk of Being Arrested and Imprisoned on Grounds of ‘Morality’ Charges
Egyptian authorities have been targeting female social media influencers in a campaign to silence them, using a cybercrime law to detain them on vague charges like violating “public morals” and “undermining family values” since 2020.
Recently, Salma Elshimy, a TikTok celebrity, became the latest influencer to be arrested for social media posts that Egypt’s public prosecutor claims incited “debauchery” and “violated family values”.
Elshimy, a model, influencer, and content creator with 3.3 million TikTok followers, was returning from Dubai, where she had filed a residency application before her arrest.
Her arrest was discovered by a United Arab Emirates photographer who informed Mada, an Egyptian news website, about it. According to the Middle East Monitor based in Qatar, Elshimy will be detained for four days for “spreading immorality” and publishing “videos and photos that contradict social morals and values.
” Hany Sameh, a lawyer who has worked on similar cases in the past, claims that these accusations against Elshimy are “vague” and are a product of male chauvinism.
Arrests of female social media influencers on charges related to morality have increased under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
Elshimy faced similar charges in 2020 after she was jailed for a month for taking a photo shoot outside the Saqqara necropolis in a photo shoot in inappropriate Pharaonic clothes.
The cybercrime law adopted in 2018 has led to more female influencers’ arrests, violating their freedom of expression.
HRW warns that arresting women on vague grounds for simply posting videos and photos of themselves on social media sites is discriminatory and directly violates their right to free expression. If found guilty, Elshimy faces imprisonment and hefty fines.