Mona el-Mazboh was at the Cairo airport, waiting to catch a flight after visiting Egypt when she was arrested. El-Mazboh would later be found guilty on charges of “deliberately spreading false rumours that would harm society, attacking religion, and public indecency,” according to Reuters. She was then sentenced to eight years in prison. Her crime? Posting a viral Facebook video, during which she criticized the way she was sexually harassed by taxi drivers and young men, of bad restaurant service, and recounting a previous incident when someone stole her money. El-Mazboh called Egypt a “son of a b**ch country.”
The video, which was about ten minutes long, went viral on social media. This apparently caught the government’s attention, jeopardizing the Lebanese tourist’s freedom for possibly the next eight years. El-Mazboh hit a nerve when she ranted about the state of the country, saying the people were the “dirtiest people on earth,” saying it’s s “country of pimps… the country of beggars,” reported the Daily Mail.
The woman also told the Egyptians that “You deserve what Sisi is doing to you, I hope God sends you someone more oppressive than Sisi.” She was referring to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who activists accuse of limiting civil liberties. And it is ironically the Sisi administration that is cracking down on El-Mazboh’s freedom to speak her mind. Activists believe Sisi is taking back all of the rights gained by the people during the Arab Uprising.
#Egypt - Mona el-Mazboh, from #Lebanon, posted a 10-minute video in which she spoke out about poor restaurant service, being sexually harassed by taxi drivers and men in the street. She now faces a 5 years prison term for her account pic.twitter.com/58iLtzqsCD— Ruud Wedding (@RuudWedding) June 13, 2018
In June, lawyers believed el-Mazboh could be sentenced to three to five years in prison, so the eight-year sentence comes as a surprise to some people. The woman already previously apologized to the “respectable Egyptians” for the video.
Meanwhile, el-Mazboh’s lawyer, Emad Kamal, says that his client has medical documentation that shows she is unable to control her anger after a brain surgery in 2006.
On July 29, an appeals court will hear the case, which represents one more chance for el-Mazboh to get a reduced sentence. Kamal elaborated.
“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.”
The oppressive government appears to be moving full-force after the president started his second term last month. Political scientist Timothy Kaldas said that “anyone still with the hope that Sisi would be softening his political repression in his second term should be disabused of that delusion at this point… The state’s zero-tolerance policy towards its critics remains in full effect,” detailed the Daily Beast.
Whether the courts plan to use el-Mazboh as an example remains to be seen. But if the appeals court upholds the original sentence, the Lebanese tourist is facing a horribly long time in prison for simply posting a Facebook video ranting about her horrible vacation.