The two women convicted on Monday — Haneen Hossam, 20, and Mawada el-Adham, 22 — gained millions of followers for lighthearted videos they posted to TikTok and other platforms that show them dancing, singing and clowning about. The clips are tame by social media standards, and nothing that would raise the eyebrow of a broadcast censor in the West.
The women wept as a judge at the Cairo Economic Court handed down the sentences, one of their lawyers said. They were also fined nearly $19,000 each.
Ms. Hossam, a second-year archaeology student at Cairo University, was arrested in April for a short Instagram video clip that prosecutors called “indecent.” In the video, she encouraged women to post videos of themselves to the app Likee, which pays users based on the number of views they receive.
Egyptian prosecutors accused Ms. Hossam, who usually wears a headscarf in her videos, of inviting young women to sell sex online. Her lawyer, Ahmed Abdelnaby, denied the charge.
“Nothing she said in that video violated the law,” he said. “The video is proof of her innocence, not the opposite.”
Ms. el-Adham, a former beauty pageant contestant with 3.2 million followers on TikTok, was on the run for days before her arrest in May, moving between houses in the Cairo suburbs and Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. During the trial, prosecutors slammed videos that she posted as “disgraceful and insulting,” her lawyer said.
Like many of the defendants, Ms. el-Adham, the daughter of a retired policeman, is from a solidly middle-class family. She moved to Cairo from the coastal town of Marsa Matruh four years ago to pursue her university studies, she said in a television interview in 2018. At the time, she worked in sales.