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Egypt: Court hands man 8 year jail term in #MeToo case

April 11, 2021

Ahmed Bassam Zaki has received a second sentence in the case sparked by an Instagram account that provided an anonymous platform for assault survivors to come out.

In this 2014 file photo, a woman shouts next to a banner that reads "rape: time to stop" during a protest against sexual assault in Cairo, Egypt.
Sexual harassment became a criminal offence in Egypt in 2014Image: Amr Nabil/picture-alliance/AP Photo

An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced a man to eight years in prison over sexual harassment and drug possession, in a case that revived a #MeToo movement in Egypt.

Ahmed Bassam Zaki, who went to Egypt's most expensive schools, had appealed against a previous three-year sentence, also over sexual harassment. 

The court handed him seven years for sexual assault and one year for drug possession, the survivor's lawyer, Ahmed Ragheb, said on Facebook. 

The survivors were minors at the time of the alleged crimes, according to court documents cited by the Associated Press. 

Sunday's verdict can be appealed to a higher court.

What is the case against Ahmed Bassam Zaki? 

Last year, allegations against Ahmed Bassam Zaki emerged online from many of his former high school classmates and others from the American University in Cairo (AUC). 

In December, a court specialized in cybercrimes had sentenced him to three years in prison for sexually harassing two women. 

Zaki was arrested on July 4. He confessed to assaulting and blackmailing six women, including one who was a minor. 

According to accusations posted on social media, Zaki would mine online groups and friends' lists on Facebook for girls to target. 

Claims against him indicated that he would flirt with women and girls and then pressure them to share intimate pictures, only to use them for blackmail later if they refuse to have sex with him.

Survivors find a platform

An Egyptian activist had set up an Instagram account called "Assault Police" to provide an anonymous platform for victims to report incidents of harassment and assault.  

"We are very happy with today's verdict because we have worked a lot on this and we are now reaping fruits," Nadeen Ashraf, the founder of Assault Police, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ashraf was an AUC student who said she had started the Instagram account after hearing allegations from her friends. 

Her Instagram account had also shed the light on a 2014 sexual assault incident that allegedly took place at the luxury Fairmont Nile City Hotel in Cairo. A then 18-year-old woman said several men drugged her and filmed themselves raping her. 

Authorities said at least five men were detained over the case. But Egypt also reportedly charged witnesses. 

The case sparked outrage as the accused men were wealthy and well connected.

A 2013 United Nations study showed that 99.3% of Egyptian women surveyed said they had experienced sexual harassment. 

fb/sri (AFP, AP, Reuters)