Egyptian Influencer Investigated for ‘Inciting Debauchery’ and ‘Violating Public Morals’

Egyptian Influencer Investigated for 'Inciting Debauchery' and 'Violating Public Morals'

An Egyptian content creator was arrested after calling for applications from women who wanted to livestream for money.

TikTok and Instagram star Haneen Hossam was arrested Tuesday morning by Egypt’s interior ministry after a video she posted caused uproar in Egypt.

According to Egyptian media reports, Houssam is being investigated for “inciting debauchery” and “violating public morals”.

In the video, Hossam offered women aged over-18 a work from home opportunity over the application Likee, saying they could make up to $2,500-$3,000 in return for live videos and speaking to strangers.
“You will be able to form friendships with people in a respectable way,” she added.

Egyptian women’s rights activist Ghadeer Ahmed was among the few people to publicly defend Hossam, saying she has been the target of several bullying campaigns in Egypt.

“This video went viral and some TV hosts and YouTubers started to incite against her, saying she wants to hire young Egyptian women as ‘digital sex workers,’ which is illegal and goes against the so-called: public moralities,” Ahmed said in a tweet.

The vlogger isn’t the first woman to get arrested in Egypt for “violating ‘public moralities”. Ahmed said that the arrest of video clip stars in Egypt has become a common phenomenon.

Hossam, who is a Faculty of Archeology student at Cairo University may also face expulsion.

In a statement Tuesday, Cairo University President Mohammed Othman Elkhosht said Haneen could be permenantly suspended due to “actions unfit for university students’ values and traditions”, awaiting the end of the police investigation.

When the video sparked outrage in Egypt, many critics drew parallels with prostitution, which is illegal in Egypt.
“This is the same as prostitution. Instead of engaging in intercourse, they are just showing [their bodies],” one person said on Twitter

“Tik-Tok, Likee and apps the like of these should all be banned in Arab countries. I myself don’t like them,” a YouTube commenter said.

Before her arrest, Hossam put out a video in her defence, saying she did not call for ‘debauchery’.

“There are famous actors that use Tik-Tok. Does this mean they work in prostitution?” she said in a tearful video following calls for her arrest.

While the vlogger did not imply any sex-work in the viral video, critics such as Egyptian writer and director Wael Elsedeki posted further recordings where a woman is heard saying the applicants would have to “remove clothing” and ‘”how their body”, although it is not confirmed that it was Hossam’s voice.

Elsedeki, who now resides in the US, made a public appeal to Egyptian authorities over Facebook, sharing the video with over a million of his followers.

He was wanted by Egyptian authorities over a music video clip released in 2015 featuring a belly dancer. The clip, Sib Idi (“Let go of my hand”).

At the time, Egypt’s court sentenced Elsedeki to one year in prison in absentia for “inciting debauchery”.

Elsedeki told The New Arab that he is “not wanted” in Egypt, adding that he had just visited his home country. When asked about his reasons for reporting Houssam, Elsedeki did not give further comments.

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