Egypt’s Judges' Club has rejected statements made by Germany's commissioner for human rights over the recent jailing of a number of Egyptian female social media influencers, describing the comments by the German official as interference in Egypt’s judicial system.
Bärbel Kofler, human rights commissioner for the German government, said last week she was troubled by "long prison sentences and high fines" against Egyptian influencers including Mowada Al-Adham and Haneen Hossam. She said the rulings were passed on “questionable legal bases” with the aim of “intimidating a whole generation of courageous young women.”
The Judges’ Club, an association comprising judges across Egypt, said the statement constitutes an “encroachment on… the independence of the judiciary stipulated in international charters and an unacceptable interference in the work of the Egyptian judiciary.”
Last month, three Egyptian TikTok and Instagram influencers – Haneen Hossam, Mawada Eladhm, and Manar Samy – were sentenced to between two and three years each in jail and fined EGP 300,000 ($19,000) after being convicted of inciting debauchery, promoting immorality and violating the country's family values through videos they share on social media.
The German commissioner said, “This way of restricting freedom of expression, which targets in particular young women who communicate very successfully on a wide range of topics on social media, must be soundly rejected.”
In response, the Judges Club said the Egyptian judiciary is “well aware of the difference between freedom of opinion and expression, and what is considered a violation of social values and a deviation from Egyptian traditions.”
The club stressed that verdicts issued by Egyptian courts are based on principles of consolidating rights and freedoms without undermining the safety of the society.
It called on all domestic and international institutions to not rely on “misleading misinformation," to comply with international charters, and to not address court rulings and public prosecution decisions in order to preserve the independence of judiciary.
Late last month, 20-year-old university student Haneen Hossam was sentenced to prison for encouraging young women to make money by making friendships through a video app. Mawada Al-Adham, who has 3.2 million followers on TikTok and 1.6 million on Instagram, was found guilty of publishing indecent photos and videos on social media.
Both young women were handed two years in prison.
Two days later, Manar Samy, who has tens of thousands of followers on the video-sharing platform TikTok, was sentenced to three years on similar charges.
The three rulings are not final and can still be appealed.