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Lebanese tourist jailed in Egypt for making sexual harassment claim

Mazbouh has lodged an appeal against the controversial decision [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2018

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Lebanese tourist Mona al-Mazbouh was sentenced to eight years in jail on Saturday, despite sexual harassment being a punishable offence in Egypt.

A Lebanese tourist who said she was sexually assaulted in Egypt was on Saturday jailed for eight years for "harming" its people, after she posted a video on social media.

Mona al-Mazbouh was arrested in late May at Cairo airport as she was preparing to leave Egypt.

Mazbouh had published a video on Facebook, which was widely shared, saying that she had been the victim of sexual harassment in the streets and accusing Egyptians of thievery and scams. 

"You deserve what Sisi is doing to you. I hope God sends you someone more oppressive than Sisi," she said, referring to strongman president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Mazbouh also called Egypt a "son of a bitch country".

The allegations drew a strong reaction online, with some Egyptians calling for Mazbouh's arrest and lodging a complaint against her. 

Despite releasing a second video insisting she had not meant to insult the country as a whole, Mazbouh was found guilty by a Cairo court of "harming the Egyptian people". 

Initially she was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but that was amended within hours to eight years, the judicial source said. 

A lawyer for Mazbouh lodged an appeal against the verdict and a hearing will be held on 29 July, an official in the prosecutor's office said. 

Mazbouh's sentence comes a month after Egyptian police detained Amal Fathy, an activist who posted a video on social media criticising the government for not protecting women against sexual harassment. 

Fathy is being questioned on charges of incitement, publishing lies and misusing social media. 

According to a 2013 report by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, 99.3 per cent of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment.

Although sexual harassment is a punishable law in Egypt, authorities regularly detain people who publicly criticise the government.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been detained since the military ousted the democratically elected and Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Sisi was reelected by a landside in presidential elections held in March that observers say was neither free nor fair. At least five major candidates were sidelined or jailed in the lead up to the 26-28 March vote.   

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