Prosecution in Egypt’s Gharbiya governorate detained two men Tuesday 4 January, after allegations of blackmailing a minor with explicit, doctored images. Basant Khaled, a 16-year-old from Kafr El Zayat village, took her own life as a result of these actions.
Family and friends hold that the images were distributed by both men after Khaled refused their sexual advances. Her subsequent suicide note, an emotional plea to her mother, garnered mass outrage on social media and urged the judicial sector to take action via Arabic hashtag: #Basants_right_must_be_ensured.
Al Ahram Online reports that the two suspects had fled their homes for fear of arrest after the suicide note’s viral notoriety. One of the men was reported to be a classmate of Khaled, while the other was a university undergraduate student.
Upon circulation, the images were a source of grief and relentless bullying for Khaled, from peers, neighbors, and her own teachers. Appearing in several televised interviews, Khaled’s father expressed outrage and hurt over his daughter’s untimely death.
Many social media users have brought into question the integrity of his reaction and grief, citing the suicide note as a clear indicator that her family did not give her necessary support.
Khaled’s suicide note was a handwritten letter, transcribed in English as:
“Mom, believe me: the girl in those pictures is not me. These pictures were Photoshopped, I swear! I’m a young girl, Mom, and I don’t deserve all that’s happening to me. I’m suffering from depression and I feel like I’m suffocating. I’m really tired of this. It’s not me, you raised me well.”
The International Fatwa Centre of al-Azhar condemned the actions of these men as “malicious [and] inhumane.”
“Blackmailing people fake accusations through forged images using modern applications or other means […] defaming people’s reputations [is] extreme, hateful abuse and forbidden slander which God Almighty warned against,” stated al-Azhar, illustrating their standpoint with several Holy Quranic verses.
This is a developing case.
*If you or anyone you know are struggling with depressive and/or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 08008880700