Egypt jails belly dancer for debauchery in social media crackdown

27 June 2020, 23:31 | Updated: 29 June 2020, 05:34

An Egyptian belly dancer has been jailed for three years and fined the equivalent of £15,000 for inciting debauchery and immorality.

Sama el Masry, who is well known in Egypt, was arrested in April as part of an investigation into videos and photos on social media.

Prosecutors described the posts as sexually suggestive and Cairo's Misdemeanours Economic Court said she had violated family principles and values, as well as using accounts on social media with the aim of committing "immorality".

John Talaat, a member of parliament, had asked for legal action against el Masry and other women as part of the crackdown on social media users.

He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the women were destroying family values and traditions, adding: "There is a huge difference between freedom and debauchery."

El Masry, 42, denied the accusations, saying the content had been stolen and shared from her phone without consent.

She vowed to appeal the court's ruling.

Two years ago, Egypt brought in a cyber crime law giving the government power to censor the internet and conduct surveillance of communications.

The punishment is a minimum of two years' jail and a fine of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds.

But Entessar el Saeed, a women's rights lawyer and head of the Cairo Centre for Development and Law, said only women are targeted by the authorities.

"Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets," she said.