A Lebanese tourist has been sentenced to eight years in prison by an Egyptian court for insulting Egyptians and their country in a video that she posted on Facebook.
In her ten-minute post, Mona el-Mazbouh used profanities, describing Egyptians as the "dirtiest people" and Egypt "the country of pimps ... of beggars." She claimed that she had been sexually harassed in the country.
Not allowed to leave the country
Having subsequently posted a video apologising for her original post and saying that she had not intended to offend Egyptians, Mona el-Mazbouh was arrested as she tried to leave the country in May.
She was charged with "deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions" and sentenced to 11 years in prison, a term subsequently reduced to eight years.
Amnesty International told Euronews, however, that it had reviewed the original video and could confirm that it was a form of self-expression. Amnesty believes the video does not contain the incitement that is implied by the criminal charges brought against el-Mazbouh. Under the Egyptian constitution, the right to self-expression should ordinarily be protected.
The conviction follows the arrest of activist Amal Fathy for posting a video online that complained about her recent experience in a bank and criticised the culture of sexual harassment and deteriorating public services in Egypt.
Her arrest was described by Amnesty International as a "new low in Egypt's crackdown on freedom of expression".
Egypt has since issued draconian new draft laws designed to clamp down hard on the media and cybercrime, giving the state "near total control".
Najia Bounaim, Director of Campaigns in North Africa at Amnesty International, said of the proposed legislation: "these proposed laws would increase the Egyptian government`'s already broad powers to monitor, censor and block social media and blogs, as well as criminalise content that violates vaguely defined political, social or religious norms".