Is the Egyptian regime preparing a crackdown against social media activists?

The Egyptian Public Prosecution has called for radical changes in the legislation of social media, describing it as “new borders that need to be deterred and guarded by the evil forces.” “It has now become a fact that, in addition to the three traditional land, sea and air borders, our nation is confronted with a fourth access point; one that necessitates the introduction of radical changes to the legislative policy as well as to the administrative and judicial controls,” the Egyptian Public Prosecution said in a statement released on its Facebook page. “We are facing new cyber borders in the field of websites, which need to deter and fully guard their borders like other borders,” the prosecution added.

The public prosecution defended its position that through this it intends to “confront phenomena behind the forces of evil that seek to spoil our society, its values, and principles and steal its innocence and purity, and infiltrate it by exploiting its circumstances and its constraints to push its youth and adults into destruction with crimes that complete its elements in the orbit of a new virtual electronic world.” The statement raised widespread concerns that the Egyptian regime was preparing to crackdown on social media activists. The statement comes at a time when the Egyptian public is busy with various issues, including the student Haneen Hossam and Sama al-Masry.

The Attorney General, Hamada al-Sawi, ordered the imprisonment of the student Haneen Hossam, pending investigations, after she posted clips on Tik Tok asking women to post live streams in exchange for large sums of money, according to the accusations.

Social media sites in Egypt are already subject to severe restrictions, and the authorities have blocked some 600 news, political, and human rights websites, in addition to social media and safe communication applications. The Egyptian Public Prosecution’s statement coincided with the arrest of another activist on Tik Tok.

Hani Mustafa broadcast a live video of his arrest, which sparked widespread controversy. In the video it is possible to hear the frightening knocks on the door of Hani’s apartment, while Hani was repeatedly asking who it was. The officers completely refused to tell Hani their identity and when Hani hesitated to open the door, they attempted to break it down. Hani repeatedly asked if he could get dressed, but he had to open the door before he could, to stop them breaking it down.

Supporters of the Egyptian regime say that Hani was broadcasting videos with sexual content that violated Egyptian literature and values. However, opponents of the Egyptian regime said Hani’s arrest was not in fact due to the sexual videos, but rather because he broadcast a satirical video on Al-Ekhtiar (the choice) series that is currently being broadcast. The choice series revolves around the life story of the Egyptian officer Ahmed Mansi who died in Sinai.

The regime uses the series to promote the military and defame the opposition and opponents say that the real reason behind Hani’s arrest is because he mocked the series. Observers fear that the Egyptian regime, after its control of the media in Egypt, is seeking to control social media.