Two Egyptian TikTokers have been arrested and ordered into pretrial detention after shooting a parody of a prison visit.
Basma Hegazi and Mohamed Hosam have been accused of spreading false news and belonging to a terror organisation.
Several TikTokers have been arrested in Egypt and charged with various offences, including “violating family values.”
Last year there was a spate of arrests of women using social media.
In one particularly high-profile case Haneen Hossam, who lip-synced to songs and danced, then shared the videos with her 900,000 followers, was sentenced to ten years in prison for human trafficking, which was then reduced to three years following a public outcry.
Human rights campaigners have said that the charges against these female TikTokers are degrading and bogus and are part of a wider pattern of the government curbing free speech, including on social media, which they have found harder to control than mainstream media.
In 2018 the government passed legislation allowing the government to prosecute anyone with an account or blog with over 5,000 followers.
Parody is “terrorism” in Sisi’s Egypt.
This should tell you all you need to know about how seriously to take claims by Egyptian officials, like Sameh Shoukry, when he defends detaining political prisoners based on “due process.” https://t.co/7nT5r0Efgn
— Timothy E Kaldas (@tekaldas) January 29, 2023
Arresting people and adding them to pretrial detention is a punitive measure used by the Egyptian government against its citizens.
Amnesty International has said that Egypt routinely uses prolonged and indefinite pretrial detention “to punish those perceived as political opponents, activists or human rights defenders.”
Many prisoners have their pretrial detention extended beyond two years, which is against Egyptian law.
There are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who are systematically tortured and denied adequate medical attention.