Johannesburg – Egypt’s crackdown on any form of political dissent or criticism continues with the jailing for two years of actress and activist Amal Fathy for speaking out against sexual harassment in a Facebook video, Amnesty International reported.
The North African country has a bad reputation for sexual harassment against women according to human rights organisations, media reports and women in Egypt, both foreign tourists and Egyptian women living there – even Muslim women who wear the hijab or full Muslim dress including head covering and long robe.
Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International's North Africa campaigns director, said Fathy’s case was another example of political repression in Egypt and the deteriorating situation for women in the country – an assertion backed by other human rights groups.
Fathy is the second woman in a year to be jailed for publicly criticising the treatment of women in the country. In June, Lebanese tourist Mona Al Mazbouh was arrested for posting an "abusive video" on Facebook in which she complained about being sexually harassed in Cairo.
Al Mazbouh was sentenced to eight years in prison for "spreading false rumours", "attacking religion" and "public indecency".
And it probably hasn’t helped Fathy’s case, in the eyes of the Egyptian authorities, that her husband is a human rights lawyer and the director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, a human rights organisation.
Journalists, NGO workers, human rights activists and other critics have all been in the sights of the Egyptian authorities as they continue to arrest and jail critics.
In July the Egyptian Parliament passed a bill targeting social media accounts with more than 5 000 followers, which will now be treated as media outlets, subject to prosecution if they are found to be spreading "fake news" or inciting unrest.
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African News Agency (ANA)