Egyptian pop singer sent to prison for two years over video that 'incited debauchery'

Shyma received a backlash from MPs and the media over the video 

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Wednesday 13 December 2017 09:33
Egyptian pop singer sent to prison for two years over video that 'incited debauchery'

An Egyptian pop singer has reportedly been sentenced to two years in prison over a music video that "incited debauchery".

Shyma, whose real name is Shaimaa Ahmed and who was relatively unknown in Egypt until the video controversy, was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (£420) by a court in Cairo, according to local media. She was found guilty of inciting debauchery and publishing an indecent film.

The director of the video, Mohamed Gamal, received the same sentence, and both can appeal against the ruling.

The video for "I Have Issues" showed Shyma dancing - at various times either clothed or wearing underwear - before appearing in front of a class of adult men, pouring milk over a banana before eating it, licking an apple, and tasting the icing on a piece of chocolate cake.

The clip caused outrage in Egypt for its explicit content. Marwan Younis, an influential blogger and presenter, posted a video on Facebook calling his followers to report the singer's page and successfully had it shut down.

Shyma apologised amid criticism by MPs and media but was still arrested shortly after the video's release. The singer, whose age has been reported between 21-25, is a former Arab Idol contestant from Tanta, northern Egypt.

The Telegraph reports she appeared in court wearing a niqab which covered her face, and was seen reading the Quaran while waiting for her sentence to be issued.

She is the latest artist to face prosecution over sexually explicit content: two bellydancers, Shakira and Bardis, were arrested and sentenced to six months in prison in 2015 for inciting debauchery and immorality in their music videos.

Egypt has also witnessed a surge in arrests and violence against LGBT people after fans were seen waving rainbow flags at a concert by Lebanese rock band Mashrou' Leila on the outskirts of Cairo in October.

The band's frontman Hamed Sinno is one of the few openly gay singers in the Middle East and has been banned twice from playing in Jordan because of his sexuality. The appearance of the rainbow flags at their show sparked the largest LGBT crackdown in the country for more than a decade.

Homosexuality is not illegal under Egyptian law, but LGBT people are often arrested on public homosexual acts or euphemistic charges like "debauchery".

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