“We had been left in utter shock. She did nothing incorrect – my sister just isn’t a felony,” says Rahma al-Adham, speaking of her youthful sibling, a social media influencer in Egypt.
Mawada, a 22-year-old college pupil, was final month sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of violating Egyptian family values.
She was arrested in Could after publishing movies on TikTok and Instagram the place she lip-synced to well-known songs and danced in modern garments. The prosecutor discovered her movies indecent.
Mawada has greater than three million followers on TikTok, and 1.6 million on Instagram.
“She solely wished to be well-known and in style,” laments Rahma.
‘The TikTok women’
Mawada is one in all 5 younger ladies who got the identical jail sentence, along with a nice of almost $20,000 (£15,300; 17,000 euros).
The 5 are referred to as the “TikTok women”. Other than Mawada, the group contains one other social media star, Haneen Hossam, and three others who haven’t been named.
Rahma says her sister was modelling on social media for various well-known vogue manufacturers. “She was simply too bold. She dreamt of being an actress.
“Why her? Some actresses gown in a really specific means. No person touches them,” she asks angrily.
In line with human rights group Amnesty Worldwide, prosecutors used 17 photographs of Mawada towards her as proof of “indecency”. Mawada stated these photographs had been leaked from her cellphone after it was stolen final yr.
The case goes to attraction on 17 August, and on the very least Rahma hopes her sister’s sentence might be lowered.
Mawada fainted when she heard the preliminary verdict, in accordance with her lawyer, Ahmed Bahkiry. “She’s completely devastated – the costs are very vaguely worded.”
“Jail can’t be an answer, even when a few of her movies go towards our social norms and traditions,” he provides. “Prisons create criminals. The authorities may have resorted to rehabilitation as a substitute.”
There are combined emotions in Egypt in the direction of the case. Some on this largely Muslim, conservative nation view TikTok movies resembling Mawada’s as indecent.
Others say the ladies had been solely having enjoyable and don’t deserve jail.
Human rights teams see the ladies’ arrests as an additional try by the authorities to limit freedom of expression and as an indication of what Amnesty known as “new repressive ways to regulate our on-line world”.
There are, campaigners say, tens of hundreds of political prisoners in Egypt, together with liberals, Islamists, journalists and human rights legal professionals.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi insists there aren’t any prisoners of conscience in his nation, whereas the state has questioned the credibility of crucial human rights stories.
‘Reckless and licentious’
Amongst these calling for the ladies’ launch is the Egyptian Fee for Rights and Freedoms, a Cairo-based human rights organisation.
Its govt director, Mohamed Lotfy, says the case reveals clear indicators of gender discrimination.
“Girls are solely allowed to precise themselves on social media in accordance with the state’s dictations,” he says. “The ladies are accused of breaching Egyptian household values, however no-one has ever outlined these values.”
Even when they had been to be launched, Mr Lotfy says a warning has already been despatched to younger women.
“The authorities have made it clear: you aren’t free to say or do no matter you want, even in case you are not speaking politics in any respect. There are strains which aren’t to be crossed.”
In latest months, the general public prosecutor’s workplace issued statements highlighting what it known as the “potential risks threatening our youth through digital platforms, which aren’t topic to any form of supervision”.
It known as on mother and father to assist cease younger folks being “misled into adopting a reckless and licentious life-style, in the hunt for nugatory fame and success”.
“They pursued unlawful paths to earn cash, falsely believing it is a type of freedom of speech,” it stated.
In the meantime, on account of what has occurred, Rahma says their mom “barely leaves her mattress now”.
“She cries on a regular basis,” she says. “Typically she wakes up at night time and asks if Mawada is again residence.”