Egypt’s prosecution started on Tuesday an investigation into a video that has gone viral online and appears to show an adult male attempting to molest a child in Cairo's Maadi neighbourhood on Monday.
The suspect was apprehended on Tuesday despite attempting to evade arrest.
Late on Monday, CCTV footage from a building in Maadi went viral on social media and shows a man in a suit enter a stairwell with a small child, and appears to attempt to sexually assault her. However, the act was interrupted by a woman who came out of one of the apartments and confronted the would-be assailant.
The video was reportedly uploaded to Facebook by the woman who confronted the suspect.
After the video went viral, Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) filed a complaint with the prosecution concerning the incident.
The prosecution sent on Tuesday a team of investigators to the site of the incident and took a statement from the woman who appeared in the video. The woman identified the victim as a street vendor who sells tissue boxes.
Social media users have found the suspect’s personal details and identified him on Facebook and LinkedIn.
According to the Egyptian penal code, the maximum penalty for the sexual molestation of persons under the age of 12 is seven years in prison.
Without addressing the incident directly, Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta, which is responsible for issuing religious edicts, has released a statement condemning child molestation and describing it as a “major sin.”
Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, has also condemned the incident, describing child molestation as “a perverted behaviour that is rejected by normal [people] and criminalised by all laws and sharia.”
El-Tayyeb also said that child molestation requires the most severe and deterrent penalties and that its criminalisation must be absolute without regard to condition or context.
“[Child molesters] must be reported and children must be aware of their criminal activities,” he said, calling for support for victims and their families.
El-Tayyeb also called for launching an age-appropriate awareness campaign in schools and through the media.
Al-Azhar is considered the Sunni Muslim world’s most influential religious organisation.