Tourist Gets 8 Years in Egyptian Prison for Facebook Video Blasting 'Son of a Bitch' Country
Egypt has no freedom of speech.
An Egyptian court sentenced a Lebanese tourist to eight years behind bars on Saturday. Her crime: posting a video to Facebook in which she complained of sexual harassment and slammed Egypt's people and leadership.
Mona el-Mazbouh originally posted the video near the end of her vacation in Egypt. In addition to her allegations of harassment, she said she was robbed during a previous visit to the nation, according to Reuters. She called Egypt a "son of a bitch country," claimed Egyptians are the "dirtiest people," and said Egypt is "the country of pimps…of beggars," the Associated Press reports. And she called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi "unjust," though she also suggested the Egyptians deserve him: "I hope God sends you someone more oppressive than Sisi," she said.
Arrested at an airport in Cairo before she could leave the country, Mazbouh was charged with "deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions." Despite posting an apology video, she was still sentenced to prison and slapped with a fine.
An appeals court will hear the case later this month. "Of course, God willing, the verdict will change. With all due respect to the judiciary, this is a severe ruling. It is in the context of the law, but the court was applying the maximum penalty," Mazbouh's attorney, Emad Kamal, says in the Reuters report.
In an attempt to free his client, Kamal has even tried to blame Mazbouh's actions on her health. According to Reuters:
Kamal said a surgery Mazboh underwent in 2006 to remove a brain clot has impaired her ability to control anger, a condition documented in a medical report he submitted to the court. She also suffers from depression, he said.
Mazbouh's sentence is ugly but unsurprising. For years, Egyptians have not been able to express themselves freely, and things haven't gotten better under Sisi's regime. Just last month, the country's parliament approved legislation forcing government supervision on "social media accounts, blogs and websites with more than 5,000 followers," the AP reports.