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This Woman Made A Facebook Video About Being Sexually Harassed In Egypt. Then She Was Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison.

Mona Mazbouh was arrested and charged in Cairo in May after she posted a video on Facebook.

Last updated on July 9, 2018, at 12:23 p.m. ET

Posted on July 9, 2018, at 9:44 a.m. ET

A Lebanese woman has been sentenced to eight years in Egyptian prison after she posted a video online about being sexually harassed.

Mona Mazbouh / Facebook

Mona Mazbouh posted a video to Facebook in May, in which she said that she had been sexually harassed during a holiday in Egypt.

Mona Mazbouh / YouTube

In the 10-minute video, she said she was in Cairo's Zamalek neighborhood waiting for an Uber when she noticed two men.

Mona Mazbrouh / YouTube

The men, who appeared to be between 40 and 50 years old, allegedly directed a slur toward her, she said, when she came out of a shop. "The man said to his friend, 'I'm hungry and I want to eat this white meat.'"

Mona Mazbouh / YouTube

"I started yelling at them and I told them, 'You are the country of prostitutes and dancers, you are selling your women for five pounds, you are dirty people.'"

"When I screamed at the man who harassed me, he told me that he did not mean anything, and he told his friend that he was hungry, and I hit him on the knee with my feet."

Mona Mazbouh / YouTube

She also called Egypt a “son of a bitch country” and heavily criticized Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was elected to a second term earlier this year. “You deserve what Sisi is doing to you, I hope God sends you someone more oppressive than Sisi,” she said in the video.

Although she subsequently deleted the video from her Facebook, users uploaded it to YouTube, where it still remains.

Some people on Twitter began to apologize for defending her.

انا بعتذر عن رائى اللى قولته امبارح فى موضوع منى مذبوح انا للاسف اتسرعت فى الحكم على الموضوع وكنت متخيله ان هى اللى مظلومه لانها اتعرضت للتحرش بس مكنتش شوفت الفيديو والحقيقه لما شوفته اتصدمت من كم الالفاظ والقذاره والوقاحه اللى فى الفيديو فكان لازم اعتذر عن التخلف اللى قولته🙏🙏

"I'm sorry for the opinion I made yesterday on the subject of Mona Mazbouh. I, unfortunately, rushed to judge the subject without seeing the video and the truth and I imagined that she was wronged because she was harassed, but I was shocked when I watched the video and the many words and sarcasm and in the video, I must apologize."

Some Egyptians reacted furiously. There was a call for her to be punished under the hashtag #TryMonaMazbouh, or #منىـمذبوح.

سمعت إنّو مصر حكمت ع لبنانيّة 8 سنين بسبب فيديو مسيء طبعاً قرّرت التّضامن معها ك لبناني بس قلت خلّيني شوف الفيديو قبل فيديو مقرف مقزّز بيحمل كل أنواع الإهانات لكرامة الشّعب المصري بأقذر الألفاظ وأقذر ما بالفيديو هو الإساءة للمصريّات ما بشرّفني دافع عنها أبداً #منى_مذبوح

"I heard that Egypt had sentenced a Lebanese girl for 8 years because of an insulting video. Of course, I decided to believe her as a Lebanese myself, but I said let's watch the video first. The video is disgusting with all kinds of insults to the dignity of the Egyptian people in the worst words. The dirtiest thing in the video is offending the Egyptian women. I would never defend her."

As the backlash grew, Mazbouh posted a second video on May 29 in which she apologized.

View this video on YouTube

In this video she said, "I definitely didn't mean to offend all Egyptians." She said she had visited Egypt many times and loves the country.

She was arrested by Egyptian authorities on May 31 when she attempted to leave the country at the end of her holiday.

Mazbouh was detained for 15 days after she was charged with “deliberately spreading false rumors that are harmful to society and infringe upon religions,” according to the public prosecutor.

A prosecution lawyer who spoke to Reuters in June said that Mazbouh could expect three to five years.

On Saturday she was found guilty of attacking religion, public indecency, and deliberately spreading false rumors that would harm society, Al Jazeera reported.

She was sentenced to 11 years, but this has been reduced to eight.

Amnesty International condemned her sentence. Hussein Baoumi, Amnesty's Egypt campaigner told BuzzFeed News that Mazboah's case was an example of how the "Egyptian authorities are determined to control speech in Egypt and harshly punish anyone who dares to express oneself freely."

"The Egyptian authorities are more concerned with silencing women and survivors of sexual harassment," he said, adding that officials were "contributing to the problem of sexual harassment."

"It is like a reverse #MeToo, where the Egyptian authorities are de facto identifying with the aggressors, rather than the survivors," he said.

But people are calling for a boycott on visiting Egypt and condemning the decision to prosecute her.

Om El Banat

Mazbouh is not the only woman who has been criminalized for speaking out about sexual harassment in Egypt.

Susan Donovan

In 2013, a United Nations report found that 99% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Khaled Diab

"Of course, God willing, the verdict will change. With all due respect to the judiciary, this is a severe ruling. It is in the context of the law, but the court was applying the maximum penalty," Mazbouh's lawyer, Emad Kamal, told reporters.


Munzer al-Awad contributed to this report.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.