The Cairo Economic Appeals Court will rule on September 14 on the appeals of five women who have been sentenced to prison on morality charges over their TikTok content, the court decided on Monday.
Haneen Hossam, who was among the first of at least nine women arrested on morality charges for their online content since April, will see the Cairo Economic Appeals Court decide on her appeal on September 14, according to local media reports. Mowada al-Adham, who was arrested in mid-May, is a defendant in the same case as Hossam. In late July, the two women, along with three unnamed defendants, were convicted of violating family values and were sentenced to two years in jail and fined LE300,000 each.
Separately, an economic court in Tanta said on Saturday it would rule on September 19 on the appeal of Manar Samy, who was sentenced to three years in prison and a LE300,000 fine for violating public morals through her social media accounts. Samy is the only woman among those arrested on these charges who was released on bail, which was set by the court at LE20,000 to suspend her sentence pending the appeal. She was released from jail on August 9th, after a delay reportedly caused by her indictment in a separate case involving fraud charges.
The sentences against Hossam, Adham, and Samy relied on the 2018 cybercrime law, which prohibits the use of technology to infringe on “family values” in Article 25 and mandates a minimum sentence of six months in prison and a LE50,000–LE1 million fine. Article 26 of the same law prohibits disseminating material that violates so-called public morals and carries a two to a five-year prison sentence and a fine of LE100,000-300,000.
In her court hearing on Monday, Hossam told judges she had done nothing wrong, and was being treated unjustly, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Local and international civil society groups and NGOs have decried the arrests and prosecutions, saying it is a violation of freedom of expression, and that the laws being used to imprison the women are overly vague and ambiguous.
Massar, a group of technology experts and lawyers promoting digital rights and freedoms, issued a memorandum today outlining ways in which Article 25 “violates constitutional protections, specifically “Article 95 of the constitution issued in 2014, which states that the penal code should respect the principle of the legality of crimes and penalties; this is guaranteed when the legal texts are clear and specific in a way that is not shrouded in ambiguity.”
Meanwhile, over 130,000 people have signed a petition launched as part of a social media campaign called “If the Egyptian family allows it,” which calls for the womens’ release and asks the National Council for Women to advocate for them. The council has not commented on the cases so far.