Middle East

Egyptian singer sentenced to two years over suggestive music video

An Egyptian court jailed a little-known singer for two years on Tuesday for “inciting debauchery”, judicial sources said, after she appeared in a music video in revealing clothes, suggestively eating a banana.

Shyma's song, titled "I have issues", sparked controversy on social media in the conservative country.

Egyptian TV commentators also expressed rage over the music video, calling the singer “filthy” and urging the authorities to prosecute her.

The singer, who was fined $560, can appeal the verdict to a higher court.

The director of the video was also fined and sentenced to two years in prison, but in absentia. Both defendants were accused of inciting debauchery and producing a video harming public morality.

Shyma, whose real name is Shaimaa Ahmed, was arrested on 18 November before being referred to the prosecution for investigation. She denied the accusations, saying the director included the controversial scenes without her consent.

In September, tens of young Egyptians in Cairo were arrested for attending a concert where a rainbow flag was raised. They were also accused of debauchery, harming public morality and other charges.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.

Sisi has called for religious reforms against “extremists”, but the government has taken a hardline approach in enforcing conservative social norms.

“Egypt should stop dedicating state resources to hunting people down for what they allegedly do in their bedrooms, or for expressing themselves at a rock concert, and should instead focus energy on improving its dire human rights record,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement in September.

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