Egyptian court sentences pop singer to prison for racy music video

An Egyptian court sentenced a little-known 21-year old pop singer to two years in prison for “inciting debauchery” in a sexually suggestive music video that triggered an outcry in the conservative country (The Guardian).

The court also ordered Shyma – whose real name is Shaima Ahmad – to pay a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (U$S 560). The clip’s director, Mohamed Gamal, received the same sentence. Both can appeal against the ruling.

Shyma (The Sun) was arrested shortly after releasing I have Issues, where she is seen dancing in lingerie before appearing in front of a classroom of adult men and pouring milk over a banana before eating it.


The video attracted more than one million viewers in a few days, but also sparked controversy in the socially conservative country. Credit: Music Box/Youtube

Her trial in the Misdemeanour Court in Cairo began on November 28 (Gulf News Egypt), where she pleaded not guilty to charges of “inciting debauchery and producing a video that harms public morality.” Shyma alleges that she was forced into the provocative poses by Gamal, who reportedly included the racy scenes in the clip’s final cut without her consent.

“I was a tool in the hands of the director, who guided my movements and requested me to do some displays,” Shyma was quoted as telling investigators (Gulf News Egypt).

Shyma’s performance sparked debates on Egyptian TV talk shows and drew condemnations from some members of parliament and the news media.

“The content of the video clip is harmful to the Egyptian society,” said Egyptian MP Jalal Awara at the time of the video’s release, according to Gulf News Egypt. “There must be a firm stance against promoters of this substandard art.”

“Singer Shyma presents a lesson in depravity to youths,” wrote a local newspaper in an article after the video was released, as reported by The Guardian.

Egypt’s musicians’ union subsequently banned Shyma from performing, according to Gulf News Egypt.

Although the singer apologised, it did not stop the police from arresting her on November 18. “I didn’t imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone, as a young singer … who has dreamt from a young age of being a singer,” Shyma wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post.

Shyma (National Post) is the latest artist in recent years to face prosecution in a clampdown on performers deemed controversial by Egyptian authorities. In 2015, two bellydancers were sentenced to six months in prison for inciting debauchery and immorality in their music videos.

Critics accuse Egyptian authorities of using broad morality laws to clamp down on a range of artists who are perceived as challenging the country’s conservative societal norms (National Post).

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