By Aswat Masriya, Edited by Egyptian Streets
A Cairo prosecutor released Thursday on EGP 100 bail a man accused of harassing and attacking a young woman in a Cairo mall, amid public condemnation of TV anchorwoman Riham Saeed, who appeared to defend him, displaying personal photographs of the victim on air.
In the video footage a young woman is seen walking in a mall a few steps behind a man, speaking on her cell phone. The man turns around, they exchange a few words then all of a sudden he angrily slaps her twice before security guards push him away.
When Saeed interviewed the woman, Somaya Tarek, on her TV show Sabaya al-Kheir Tuesday night, Tarek said that she was first “harassed” by her assaulter and that when she threatened to call security, he followed her and slapped her.
She denounced the mall’s security guards for failing to take action against the man.
Tarek also claimed that the personal photos of herself on the beach that Saeed displayed on air to imply that Tarek “has brought it on herself”, were taken from her cell phone by the production team without her knowledge. She had left the phone with them to charge it.
The whole incident stirred fury against Saeed on social media where the hashtag #Die_Riham trending on Twitter within two hours of its launch and people calling for killing her show.
On Wednesday Saeed defended herself by saying that the photos were “public” because Tarek has become a public figure after appearing on TV.
Claiming that she is the epitome of professionalism, Saeed emphasised that there are always two sides to any story and interviewed the assaulter’s sister on air, who claimed that her brother only slapped her when Tarek insulted him with expletives.
However, Saeed’s statement backfired. More than five major sponsors of her television show have pulled all advertisement. Among those who publicly condemned Saeed and pulled their advertisements are Chipsy, Electrostar, and Aloe Eva.
Independent Human Rights lawyer Yasmin Hossam told Aswat Masriya that what Saeed did was a “crime” violating article 99 of the constitution which protected the sanctity of personal freedom.
The article states that “any violation of personal freedom, or the sanctity of the private life of citizens, or any other public rights and freedoms which are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Law is a crime. The criminal and civil lawsuit arising of such crime shall not abate by prescription.”
The law further says that the “affected party shall have the right to bring a direct criminal action.” The law guaranteed “fair compensation” for the victims of such “violations”.
Hossam added that according to the penal code, people who violate the sanctity of personal freedom could receive up to a year in prison.
As for the alleged harasser, the penal code stipulates no less than 6 months and a fine of between EGP 3,000 and EGP 5,000.
According to article 306 of the penal code, which was amended by Interim President Adly Mansour in June 2014, if the harasser was following the victim, the imprisonment period should not be less than a year and a fine starting EGP 5,000 and EGP 10,000.
Physical assault would also put him away between six months to three years, she added.
Often stirring controversy, Saeed has long been criticised on social media.
In September, she raised a firestorm of anger while on a “humanitarian” mission to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon whome she described as “ruined” as video footage showed them snatching food and clothes from an assistance truck.
The episode sparked public indignation for what was believed to be an “insult” to refugees.