Egypt to free Lebanese tourist sentenced to 8 years for insulting country

Woman posted 10 minute Facebook video after Cairo vacation saying she was sexually harassed, calling Egypt ‘country of pimps, beggars’

Illustrative: Egyptian security officers guard a courthouse  in Cairo, Egypt, November 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Illustrative: Egyptian security officers guard a courthouse in Cairo, Egypt, November 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

CAIRO  — An Egyptian court has approved an appeal by a Lebanese woman who was sentenced to eight years in prison over insulting Egyptians in a video she posted online and handed her a suspended one-year sentence.

The Heliopolis Appeals court on Sunday fined Mona el-Mazbouh 10,700 Egyptian pounds (around $598) and ordered her deportation.

Egyptian authorities arrested el-Mazbouh in May after she posted a 10-minute video in which she used profanities to describe her vacation in Cairo where she says she was sexually harassed. She calls Egyptians the “dirtiest people” and Egypt “the country of pimps … of beggars.”

El-Mazbouh later posted an apology video, saying “I definitely didn’t mean to offend all Egyptians.”

She was initially handed an 11-year prison sentence but it was later reduced to eight.

She had been charged with “deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions.”  She was arrested in May before departing from Cairo.

Mona el-Mazbouh, a Lebanese tourist sentanced to 8 years in prison for insulting Egypt in a Facebook video. (Screencapture/Youtube)

Earlier in May, authorities arrested Egyptian activist Amal Fathy after she posted a video online in which she also lashed out at the state after a negative experience in and outside a local bank branch. Also using curses, she railed against what she described as the country’s deteriorating public services and unchallenged sexual harassment. She has since remained in custody.

Amnesty International has called Fathy’s arrest a “new low in Egypt’s crackdown on freedom of expression” and, along with other rights groups, has called for her release.

In June, Egypt’s parliament initially approved a bill placing social media accounts, blogs, and websites with more than 5,000 followers under the supervision of the country’s top media regulatory body, which can take measures that include blocking them if they are found to be disseminating false news, inciting violence, or violating the law.

A final reading of the bill has yet to take place before it is ratified by the president.

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