An Egyptian court has on Monday sentenced several young women to two years in prison, naming their offence as posting “indecent” dance videos on TikTok.
The prosecution statement named just two of the defendants — 20-year-old student Haneen Hossam and 22-year-old Mawada al-Adham — and said the other three helped run their social media accounts.
In addition to the jail term, the women were also fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (nearly $19,000) each for “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family,” inciting debauchery and promoting human trafficking, according to a statement from the public prosecutor.
Their lawyers have however vowed to appeal the ruling.
Both women recently became TikTok stars, amassing millions of followers for their video snippets set to catchy Egyptian club-pop tracks. In their respective 15-second clips, the women wearing makeup pose in cars, dance in kitchens and joke in skits — familiar and seemingly tame content for the platform.
But their social media stardom became their undoing in Egypt, where citizens can land in prison for vague crimes such as “misusing social media,” “disseminating fake news,” or “inciting debauchery and immorality.”
Eladhm’s lawyer, Ahmed el-Bahkeri, confirmed the sentencing. The prosecution deemed Eladhm’s photos and videos “disgraceful and insulting.”
“They just want followers. They are not part of any prostitution network, and did not know this is how their message would be perceived by prosecutors,” she added, in reference to their posts encouraging young women to share videos and chat with strangers in exchange for money on another social media platform.