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Egypt cuts TikTok influencer sentence to 3 years

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A woman watches a video of Egyptian influencer Haneen Hossam on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt's capital Cairo on July 28, 2020


A woman watches a video of Egyptian influencer Haneen Hossam on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt’s capital Cairo on July 28, 2020 – Copyright AFP Jewel SAMAD

An Egyptian court has reduced TikTok influencer Haneen Hossam’s 10-year “human trafficking” sentence to three years, a judicial source told AFP on Monday.

While the jail time was reduced, Hossam was also fined 200,000 Egyptian pounds ($10,800) by the Cairo Criminal Court, said the source.

The targeting of female influencers has rekindled a heated debate in the deeply conservative Muslim country over what constitutes individual freedoms and social values.

Hossam was first arrested in 2020 and, along with another influencer Mowada al-Adham, was sentenced to two years for “attacking society’s values” in their videos. An appeals court acquitted the pair in January last year but they were later charged with “human trafficking” for ostensibly profiting off girls’ “immodest” social media activity.

Hossam was charged over one video telling her 1.3 million followers on the video sharing app that girls can make money by working with her on social media.

Then aged 19, she was sentenced in absentia and arrested last June.

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Adham received a six-year sentence and a 200,000-pound fine. She is still behind bars.

Hossam’s lawyer Hussein al-Baqar confirmed to AFP that the sentence had been reduced. As she has already served 21 months including time under investigation, “she can be released in June or July,” Baqar said, adding the latest sentence could still be appealed.

Her case returned to court under a routine process because she was no longer in absentia.

Targeting women in media is not unusual in Egypt, where several belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted in recent years over online content deemed too racy or suggestive.

Egypt has over the past few years enforced strict internet controls through laws allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers.

Monday’s ruling “means that the justice system is criminalising what influencers globally do every day when they invite others to work with them and monetise TikTok activity,” Mai el-Sadany, Managing Director of the Washington, DC-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, tweeted.

“There are real and serious cases of human trafficking that must be prosecuted — these TikTok cases are not it.”

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Op-Ed: ‘Armed rebellion’ and ‘civil war’ calls get massively unimpressed response on Twitter

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Local law enforcement officers are seen in front of the home of former President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on August 9, 2022

Local law enforcement officers are seen in front of the home of former President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on August 9, 2022 – Copyright AFP/File Aleksey Filippov

Social media does turn out to be good for something, after all. Much raging online about Trump’s Mar-A-Lago raid isn’t going over. Maybe the endless tantrums are getting a bit stale. A virtual tide of Twitter responses isn’t buying it on any level.

One Tweet pointed out Trump said “they raided my home” before it was actually raided. Trump lawyers, meanwhile, said he wasn’t notified…? Generally speaking,  warrants are not carried out on an RSVP basis. You don’t ask the crack house when would be a good time to call, for example.

You may (or may not) also be interested to know that “Trump civil war” is now an auto search cue. The headlines for that search on Google News are really something else. The unimpressed response isn’t getting any coverage, hence this article. The picture is very different.

The adult news sticks to the point – Violation of the Espionage Act, Presidential Records Act; you know, law. Much of this media, understandably, focuses on “what next?”.

“Other” news is all about QAnon-like conspiracies. (If you’ve got no facts, fiction is your only real option.) Trump’s playing along with it as usual. Trump is seen doing a Mussolini salute, an actual Fascist fist, in various styles on multiple occasions. It looks more like a trained move. He wasn’t doing that previously, and he’s not good at it. Presumably, it means “defiance”, but it looks awkward and rehearsed.

Of course, the image has a role in anything to do with Trump. Trump is pumping the pity buttons in public. The GOP and MAGA are pushing the extreme rhetoric. As a marketing exercise, it’s selling sand to people living in deserts. The problem is that it doesn’t sell to anyone else.

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These thunderous noises also don’t quite gel with the fact that Trump lawyers, who requested documents regarding the warrant, haven’t yet agreed to make them public. As mixed messages go, it’s about what you’d expect from anything associated with Trump. Is there a problem with making them public? Could be.

Rebellion against what?

There’s a bit of a practical issue with “Trump civil war”, too. Any such thing would be total coast-to-coast carnage. Sandy Hooks and Uvaldes all round, no doubt. Does America, already so happily living among the gangs and mass shootings, really want a civil war?

Maybe not?

You’ll need to answer that question. …Because over half the country didn’t vote for that and they might get really ticked off about it.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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