Egypt court jails belly dancer for ‘debauchery’ in social media crackdown


A high-profile Egyptian belly-dancer, Sama el-Masry, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,500) on Saturday for inciting debauchery and immorality as part of a crackdown on social media postings.

El-Masry was arrested in April during an investigation into videos and photos on social media, including the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, that the public prosecution described as sexually suggestive.

The dancer, 42, denied the accusations, saying the content was stolen and shared from her phone without consent.

In 2018 Egypt adopted a cyber crime law that grants the government full authority to censor the internet and exercise communication surveillance.

The law carries penalties of imprisonment of 2 years minimum and a fine of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds.

A group of female TikTok and Instagram influencers and YouTubers have been arrested by the Egyptian authorities in recent months on charges of promoting debauchery and prostitution on social media.

Talaat said those influencers were expected to face the same prison terms as el-Masry as they had committed the same crime.

The Egyptian government was not available for immediate comment.

Entessar el-Saeed, a women rights lawyer and head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, said women are the only category targeted by the authorities according to this law.

“Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Today's Vocabulary

1. debauchery (n)
bad sexual behaviour, drinking too much alcohol, taking drugs, etc.

2. crackdown (n)
a situation in which someone starts to deal with bad or illegal behaviour in a more severe way

3. grants (v)
to give or allow someone something, usually in an official way

4. incite (v)
to encourage someone to do or feel something unpleasant or violent

5. immorality (n) 
behaviour that is morally wrong, or outside society’s standards of what is acceptable

6. platform (n)
an opportunity to make your ideas or beliefs known publicly

7. prosecution (n)
the act of officially accusing someone of committing an illegal act, esp. by bringing a case against that person in a court of law

  1. How much did the dancer get fined (in Egyptian currency)?

  2. What did a court say the belly dancer was breaking?

  3. What social media platform did the Belly Dancer upload the videos to?

  4. How long does the belly dancer have to spend behind bars?
  1. What do you think of belly dancing?

  2. What changes has social media made to society?

  3. Should all societies be conservative?

  4. Do you want to learn how to belly dance? Why?
  5. Is showing lots of skin while dancing immoral?