CAIRO — An Egyptian court sentenced on Saturday a Lebanese woman to eight years in prison over insulting Egyptians in a video she posted online, and set July 29 as the date for her appeal, state media reported.
Mona el-Mazbouh was initially handed down 11 years but the sentence was later reduced to eight, the state-run Al-Ahram news agency reported. It was unclear why the sentence was reduced. She was also fined 10,700 Egyptian pounds (around $598).
She was charged with “deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions.”
The sentence comes 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 arrested in May before departing from Cairo.
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.