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Another TikTok star arrested in Egypt

A famous TikToker’s arrest sparked widespread reactions in Egypt amid renewed calls to ban the app over content that is deemed contrary to Egyptian values.
A man watches a video posted by Egyptian Tiktok influencer Haneen Hossam.

CAIRO — On Sept. 28, Egyptian security authorities arrested popular TikToker Ibrahim Malik on charges of “promoting immoral content.”

According to a Sept. 28 report published by El-Balad, Malik was known for going live on TikTok with girls and women from Egypt and other Arab countries asking them to do various challenges. The report claimed Malik would disrespect and insult these women and their followers, for which many TikTok users criticized and ridiculed him.

TikTok recently caused controversy in Egypt as some Twitter users called for the app to be banned in the country, arguing that TikTok shows videos that violate the values of Egyptian society.

Other TikTokers have previously been arrested in Egypt. In April, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Haneen Hossam, known in the media as the “TikTok girl,” to three years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Egyptian pounds ($10,200) after she was accused of “human trafficking and violating the values of society.”

Ashraf Farhat, lawyer and founder of the Cleansing Society campaign — which aims to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the values of Egyptian society — submitted the complaint to the Egyptian prosecution against Malik.

He told Al-Monitor, “Malik committed many acts that violate the law in Egypt, as he shared several videos that contain indecent words, as well as disrespecting women and insulting farmers in Egypt, not to mention that he previously described some critics as ‘dogs.’”

Farhat added, “The complaint [against Malik] cited misuse of social media and abuse of the values of society, in violation of the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law.”

Article 25 of said law, which was ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2018, stipulates, “Posting content that violates the family principles and values upheld by Egyptian society may be punished by a minimum of six months imprisonment and/or a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,553 to $5,106).”

On Sept. 21, Amnesty International issued a report criticizing the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt at a time when the government and the presidency are moving ahead with a national dialogue with the opposition.

Walid Hajjaj, a cybersecurity expert and member of the Committee on Digital Culture and Information Infrastructure at the Supreme Council of Culture, told Al-Monitor, “It is difficult to monitor or control the content on TikTok given [it has recently become] widespread and the increasing number of users, as well as the inability of the [Egyptian] authorities to ban the app in Egypt, as there are many technological ways to bypass the ban of any platform or content on the internet.”

A study conducted by the Naif Arab University for Security Sciences in Saudi Arabia in August showed that there are over 20 million TikTok users in Egypt.

Hajjaj said, “The solution to confronting inappropriate actions on social media is to implement a cooperation protocol with social media platforms, including TikTok, to define its policy in Egypt and adopt guidelines that prevent obscene words and scenes of violence and nudity, in line with the values of Egyptian society.”

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