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The principles and values ​​of the Egyptian family: A new restriction on freedom of expression

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)


In a frightening development of the state’s moral campaigns against social media users, an economic court in Egypt issued a ruling on Monday, July 27, 2020, to punish Hanin Hossam, Mawadda Al-Adham, and three other girls, with two years imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 pounds each, for convicting them of trespassing family “values ​​and principles”.

The defendants had been referred to criminal trial on charges of assaulting the values ​​and principles of the Egyptian family and society, luring girls and exploiting them through live broadcasting, committing the crime of human trafficking, and publishing videos that incite immorality and debauchery, as well as escaping from justice and trying to conceal and encrypt their phones and accounts through social media.

The truth, which must not be denied to everyone, is that everything that the convicted persons did – although some may resent it with claims of vulgarity or violation of traditions – does not deviate from the frameworks of the exercise of their personal rights, whether related to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom to use the Internet, or freedom of the body, or the right to work.

It is an issue that raises many questions to those concerned with human rights, and makes us ask to what degree the state’s authorities have the power to impose their moral version on citizens, especially in light of those powers assuming conservative individuals who obey a set of indecisive laws that open the door to retroactive patriarchal rule over citizens.

The articles of the Penal Code by which girls are being tried criminalize publishing pictures and videos that are offensive to modesty: punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding 10,000 pounds or either of these two penalties for anyone who publishes pictures with the intent to display if they are offensive to public decency, as stipulated in Article 178 penalties .

Invitation to solicitation of prostitution on social networking sites: A penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 years and a fine not exceeding 100 pounds shall be imposed on anyone who declares, in any way, an invitation that includes inducement to immorality, prostitution, or attracting attention, according to Article 14 of Law No. 10 of 1960.

Violating family principles and values ​​in Egyptian society: Any person who violates any of the family principles or values ​​in the Egyptian society is punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than six months and a fine of not less than fifty thousand pounds and not exceeding one hundred thousand pounds, or one of these two punishments, (Article 25 of Law 175 of 2018) in the matter of combating information technology crimes.

Creating and managing an account on the internet to incite debauchery: Anyone who creates, manages or uses a site or a private account on an information network, is punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than two years and a fine of not less than one hundred thousand pounds and not exceeding three hundred thousand pounds, or one of these two penalties. Anyone who creates, manages, or uses a website or private account on an information network that aims to commit or facilitate the commission of a crime punishable by law (Article 27 of Law 175 of 2018).

In light of those articles which are of multiple interpretation and reading such as (incitement to immorality or assault on family principles and values ​​in Egyptian society), which contradicts the original definition of legal rules by requiring that words be defined with clear definitions, and that the use of elastic phrases bring us back under the authority of the law interpreter who reads the text as pleases him/her, or to contradict it, as is the case in the Cairo University decision to refer it to investigation with a threat of dismissal in facts that have nothing to do with the university in any way.

DAAM center points out that the Egyptian laws in particular, including the criminal ones, need a comprehensive review in that they contain expressions that have no clear measurement for them and can be exploited in many matters that the legislator did not intend, which is a matter that cannot coexist with, especially in a country with known with a huge number of laws that have evolved over the years.

In addition, the judicial and executive authorities must stop playing the role of the elder brother of the Egyptian society, who must protect its morals and values ​​from every aggressor, since the society’s values ​​are originally a firm matter that does not need responsible supervision.

DAAM center affirms that Egyptian citizens are protected by the Constitution which guarantees their rights and freedoms that must be looked at more seriously, and that the actions of assumptions that do not include violation of the law must not be followed by preventive legal measures by invoking societal values. This comes especially that this conservative view often comes as a front for more oppression against women who are treated as property, who must be protected even if there is nothing to call for that protection.

Background :

Some social media applications gained wide popularity in Egypt during the curfew period and calls for self-isolation in homes that accompanied the spread of the “emerging coronavirus”, especially after the tendency of many artists and famous people to publish various contents through these applications, which contributed to the expansion of the base of their followers. However, what started with amusement and sarcasm took a very serious course when we were surprised by the news that the Egyptian authorities had arrested some users of these applications for using them to publish videos.

Hanin Hossam, a student at Cairo University, was arrested after she published a video calling for the use of the (Likee) application for a fee, and she was also referred to the legal affairs at the Faculty of Archeology, Cairo University, where she is studying for the purpose of investigation with her. The university stated, in an official statement, that it had referred the girl to legal affairs for investigation for her behavior that contradicted public morals, university values ​​and traditions.

Mawaddah Al-Adham was also arrested on charges of assaulting family principles and values ​​in Egyptian society, and its creation, management and use of private websites and accounts through social networking applications on the international information network with the aim of committing and facilitating the commission of that crime. The General Administration for the Protection of Morals at the Ministry of Interior had managed to arrest Mawaddah Al-Adham, pursuant to the Public Prosecution order to seize and bring her.

It is reported that many applications such as (Likee) have faced many criticisms related to privacy, data protection and exposing children from its users at risk. However, the facts of the arrest of Hanin Hussam and Mawaddah Al Adham are not related to this.

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

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