Online activist, Egypt
Arrested: May 11, 2018
Held at: Qanater women’s prison
Sentenced to two years imprisonment, allegedly awaiting trial on other charges.
Amal Fathy is an activist and former member of the April 6 youth movement who was arrested on May 11, 2018 along with her husband and young child. Her detention was due to comments made in a video she posted about her experiences being sexually harassed on the streets of Cairo. Fathy’s family was released shortly after their detention, but she was sentenced to 15 days of pre-trial detention.
In her video, posted two days before her arrest, Fathy, a former model and actress, described being groped by a taxi driver, and then later that day witnessing a bank guard grab his crotch while making lewd comments about her. “Screw anything that has the name of Egypt in it. Today the policeman at the bank was talking dirty to me while grabbing his penis. Screw the police,” she said in the video.
In response to her video, Fathy received “a wave of harassment and threats on social media, including gender-based insults and calls for her arrest,” according to Amnesty International.
On May 13, while Fathy was still being held in Maadi’s police station, State Security ordered her detention pending further investigation on charges of “joining a terrorist group and using the Internet to call for terrorist acts,” and “spreading false news and rumors to disrupt public security and harm national interests.” Her pre-trial detention was renewed twice, on May 24 and June 7, at which point she was additionally charged with “broadcasting a video on social media to incite the overthrow of the Egyptian government,” “misuse of social media,” and “publishing a video on social media to spread false rumors.” Although the Helwan Misdemeanor Appeals Court ordered Fathy’s release on bail on June 19, the Maadi Prosecution appealed the decision. On August 8, she was referred to trial. On September 29, Fathy was sentenced to two years in prison for spreading false news and sharing indecent material, a sentence that could be suspended upon payment of a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds. She appealed the decision, and was given a suspended sentence until her appeal upon payment of a fine, but nevertheless remained in detention because she faced trial on separate charges. On December 31, her two year sentence was upheld.
“Amal Fathy criticized the Egyptian government for failing to protect women, and her arrest has shown just how pertinent her concerns are. It is a dark day when the Egyptian authorities are more concerned with silencing a woman who speaks out about sexual harassment than taking steps to address the issue,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's campaigns director for North Africa.