Egypt Watch

Several human rights organisations speak out against trial of Tik Tok girls in Egypt

Fourteen human rights organisations have condemned the Egyptian authorities’ continuing trial of what have become known as the Tik Tok girls. In a joint statement, they demanded that the trials be halted, the defendants released, and the cases closed. In the statement, the organisations stressed the importance of the authorities’ commitment to guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression, including through social media, without arbitrary restrictions.

The Egyptian authorities have been persecuting several girls who are active on Tik Tok on charges of violating morals and spreading offensive values. The successive cases, known as the Tik Tok Girls Trial, have sparked widespread human rights criticism, especially since there is nothing in the articles of Egyptian law that criminalises these acts.

Rights activists considered that the regime’s pursuit of The Tik Tok girls is an attempt to beautify the face of the regime that suppresses freedoms and to show it to be defending virtue, morals, and societal morals. During the past days, the Cairo Criminal Court held a session to continue hearing the case in which Hanin Hossam and Mawada Al-Adham were accused, as the Public Prosecution referred them to a criminal trial on the charge of human trafficking.

Mawaddah Al-Adham is being held in pretrial detention. The court ordered the imprisonment of Hanin Hussam in a previous session, on 18 April 2021, and the police are still searching for her, according to judicial sources’ statements. Last January, the Cairo Economic Appeals Court acquitted Hanin Hossam of the charge of infringing on family values while cancelling the imprisonment of Mawaddah Al-Adham in the same case and only confirming the fine for her in the amount of EGP 300,000.

The statement stressed that these trials express the authorities’ hostility towards the free use of the Internet. It added that these trials also show how the authorities seek to monitor user accounts on social media through the police and the Public Prosecution, under the pretext of protecting family values.

The signatory organisations renewed their call to the authorities to stop these trials, including the human trafficking case against Hanin and Mawada, and release the defendants and others who are being held in pretrial detention or sentenced in connection with these cases. The organisations called for stopping the use of vague terms in the Anti-IT Crimes Law in violation of digital rights.