Cairo’s prosecution ordered on Monday the release of a baker, who was charged with making cakes involving sexually explicit shapes, on an EGP 5,000 bail.
The release order is the latest chapter in a saga that involves Egypt’s old and upscale Gezira Sports Club (GSC) and a group of its elderly women members, in what has become commonly known as Al-Gazeera club’s scandal.
It all started on Sunday, when photos of elderly women in an open area like a garden or a club eating cakes and cupcakes with icing in the shape of male genitalia surfaced online.
On Monday, the photos went viral on social networks in Egypt with more information on the photos. It is still unknown how these photos ended up on the internet.
It turned out that the group of women were elderly members of GSC in upscale Zamalek who were celebrating a birthday.
The photos of the cupcakes and the ladies were the source of much controversy, with many people attacking the club and accusing its members of immorality.
President of GSC Amr Gazarin announced that an internal investigation into the incident has been launched, however, the club will issue new rules concerning privacy and photographing others, as well as publishing their photos online without their permission.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports, which oversees the clubs’ activities, also declared it was investigating the incident.
On Monday afternoon, security forces arrested the baker who made the controversial pastries, who turned out to be a renowned baker in the Garden City area that specialises in making customised cupcakes and cakes.
According to the authorities, the baker stated that she made the pastries as per the request of the members, who sent her the designs via WhatsApp.
On Tuesday, the members of the club who appeared in the photos were identified, with renowned Egyptian professional Swimmer Soheir El-Attar being confirmed as one of the attendees.
A 74-year-old professional and awarded swimmer, Soheir El-Attar, made nationwide headlines when she won the silver medal in the Masters Swimming Competition for Senior Citizens in the age group of 70-74 in 2018, which was held in South Korea.
El-Attar, who is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Cairo University, told Al-Watan Newspaper that she and her friends were celebrating a birthday at GSC on 10 January at an adults only garden when they found out that there was a mistake and the baker sent them the order of a bachelorette party instead of their order.
El-Attar added that she and the rest of the group decided to take photos with the sexually explicit cupcakes as a joke.
She also said that she does not know how the photos found their way to social media websites or how they went viral.
Despite Egypt having its own traditional version of a bachelorette party, known as Henna, western style bachelorette parties involving sexually explicitly cakes and cupcakes have made their way to the upper class in the past decade but not on a large scale.
Usually, bakeries presenting this sort of customised pastries do not promote them publicly.
The photos caused much controversy online, becoming the most talked about topic in the country in the past 48 hours.
The “Gezira Club” hashtag in Arabic was top trending on Twitter on Monday, with most tweets attacking the group of women and demanding their punishment for spreading immorality and acting in an indecent way.
Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta joined the controversy and stated on social media that Islam prohibited the spread of sexually explicit pictures and figurines, saying that “It is an aggression on morals and a blatant insult to society.”
On the other hand, some defended the group of women and were even ready to defend the baker in front of the law if things escalated, such as renowned human rights lawyer Negad El-Borai.
“I am ready to defend the lady baker who baked the genital shaped gateaux for the Al-Gazeera club women,” he said on Twitter.
“These old women wanted to break the routine of their life and had a small party together and bought genital shaped gateaux. Al-Gazeera club suspended their memberships and people filed complaints at the prosecution against these women and not against the person who took their photos and attacked their privacy,” he said.
El-Borai added that what happened with these women and with the TikTok girls before them confirms that there is a group within society, supported by the state, that wants to cancel any space for personal freedoms in Egypt for the sake of “family morals.”
News reports claim that GSC suspended the membership of the women but so far there has been no official confirmation.
Established in 1882, GSC has been considered a club for the elite and upper-class for decades in the country.