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Egypt social media influencer Haneen Hussam accused of ‘debauchery’ after viral TikTok video

Egyptian university student and social media influencer Haneen Hussam, 22 April 2020 [Twitter]
Egyptian university student and social media influencer Haneen Hussam, 22 April 2020 [Twitter]

An Egyptian university student and social media influencer has been arrested on charges of inciting immorality and debauchery.

In the video in question Haneen Hussam, an archaeology student at Cairo University who has over one million followers on TikTok, asked women to post a video of themselves with the aim of recruiting them to join an agency she created on the video sharing platform Likee.

The women would then promote the platform in exchange for between $36 and $2-3,000.

Haneen said that the women must be above 18, wear formal clothes and dress and behave in a decent manner. She said she wanted the women to be fully clothed, would not accept abusive behaviour, and only those with a good reputation need apply.

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Her critics are now calling for an investigation into her video on the grounds that she “legalised prostitution”.

TV presenter Nashaat Al-Dihy accused her of “inciting debauchery” and called on authorities to “preserve the identity of the Egyptian family” and asked them to take punitive measures against social media apps including TikTok.

Cairo University has said Haneen is now under investigation for “behaviours inconsistent with public morals and the university’s values and traditions” after people complained she was asking women to shoot inappropriate videos in exchange for money.

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 In her defence, Haneen has said that she made a three-minute video clip in which she asked women to apply but that the media reduced it to ten seconds taking her comments completely out of context, adding that her parents agreed to the videos before she published them.

Her father has said in press statements that his daughter is innocent and has not incited debauchery and that her videos are in line with what other women of her age publish online.

Several women in Egypt have been accused of “inciting debauchery”, including actress Rania Youssef, after critics took against her choice of dress for the Cairo Film Festival in 2018.

A number of singers and belly dancers have also had the charge levelled at them as the government has cracked down on all forms of free expression, including the arts.

In 2018 Egypt’s parliament passed a law stipulating that social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers will be treated as media outlets and those commanding them can be prosecuted for publishing false news.

The Sisi government maintains tight control over the state media in the country but has struggled to control the narrative on social media where it is easier to be critical of the regime.

Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority says the use of TikTok in Egypt has increased by 194 per cent since the curfew was put in place in March.

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