WHAT HAVE I WRITTEN ABOUT EGYPT? – Nervously checking my old travel writing at the moment:
A Lebanese tourist who posted a video on Facebook complaining of sexual harassment and conditions in Egypt has been referred to criminal trial and ordered to be detained for 15 days, Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Sunday.
Mona el-Mazboh has been held since Thursday when she was arrested at Cairo airport at the end of her stay in Egypt after her outspoken video went viral on social media.
In the video, Mazboh complains of being sexually harassed by taxi drivers and young men in the street, as well as poor restaurant service during the holy month of Ramadan and an incident in which money was stolen from her during a previous stay.
Reuters could not reach Mazboh for comment or immediately verify the authenticity of the 10-minute video, in which she calls Egypt a “son of a bitch country”.
She could face three to five years in prison if found guilty, according to one of the lawyers who filed a complaint against her.
Referring to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was sworn in for a second term as president on Saturday, she says: “You deserve what Sisi is doing to you, I hope God sends you someone more oppressive than Sisi.”
Egyptian rights activists say they face the worst crackdown in their history under Sisi, accusing him of erasing freedoms won in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Mazboh later posted a second video apologizing to “respectable Egyptians” for her remarks.
In a statement, the public prosecutor said Mazboh was charged with “deliberately spreading false rumors that are harmful to society and infringe upon religions.”
It’s like writing a bad Yelp review for the whole country – and then going to jail for it.
The charge here of “deliberately spreading false rumors that are harmful to society and infringe upon religions” implies that Ms Mozbah is lying about her experiences in Egypt (as well as presupposes that this is something that should be criminally punished). I don’t know what happened to Ms Mozbah but what she says has happened to her unfortunately happens to many other people traveling in Egypt, particularly, of course, women, and most of all, the Western “uncovered” women. I’ve heard enough stories from female travellers to know that merely being constantly accosted by the locals wanting to sell you something is to get off (so to speak) very lightly while on the road in the land of the Pharaohs (and Generals). A son of a bitch country? Punishing tourists for speaking out about their unhappy experiences is one way for the label to stick in the future.
Feel free to revisit my Egypt back catalogue: