Egyptian Singer Shaimaa Ahmed Jailed for Eating a Banana in Her Underwear

An Egyptian court jailed a singer for two years on Tuesday (December 12) for "inciting debauchery," judicial sources said, after she appeared in a music video in her underwear and suggestively eating a banana.

Shyma's song, titled I Have Issues, sparked controversy on social media in the conservative country.

The singer, who was fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($560; £420), can appeal the verdict to a higher court.

The director of the video was also fined and sentenced to two years in prison, but in absentia. Both defendants were accused of inciting debauchery and producing a video harming public morality.

Shyma, whose real name is Shaimaa Ahmed, was arrested on November 18 before being referred to the prosecution for investigation. She denied the accusations, saying the director included the controversial scenes without her consent.

"I didn't imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone," the singer wrote on her now-deleted Facebook page, according to the BBC.

Shaimaa Ahmed
Shaimaa Ahmed's song, titled "I have issues," sparked controversy on social media in Egypt. YouTube Screenshot

Shyma's arrest came just weeks after Lebanese pop singer Haifa Wehbe, 41, was reprimanded by Egyptian authorities after wearing a pair of shorts on stage.

The pop star said she was called for questioning after wearing the outfit during a performance at the American University of Cairo, according to the Associated Press.

Another Egyptian singer is facing trial for "spreading provocative publicity" and "insulting the state" after she suggested that drinking from the River Nile could make people ill.

Sherine Abdel Wahab, 37, was on stage in the United Arab Emirates when a fan requested if she could sign her track Have You Drunk From the Nile.
She replied: "No, you'd get Schistosomiasis! Drink Evian, it's better." Schistosomiasis is a parassitic disease common in Egypt.

The comment stirred controversy and the singer publicly apologized. However, she is now facing two lawsuits. The Egyptian Musicians Syndicate banned her from performing in the country, according to the Guardian.

Human rights groups have called on Egypt to stop using debauchery laws to prosecute citizens accused of immoral behavior. The laws are sometimes used to target homosexuals in the country.

Dozens of young Egyptians were arrested in September for attending a concert in Cairo where a rainbow flag—a symbol that represents the LGBT community—was raised. They were also accused of debauchery, harming public morality and other accusations.

The incident sparked a crackdown on people believed to be gay or supportive of gay rights.

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, the country's laws only recognise unions between a man and a woman as legal. Members of the LGBT community face discrimination, violence and arrests in the north African nation.

At the time of the arrest, Human Rights Watch said in a statement: "Whether they were waving a rainbow flag, chatting on a dating app, or minding their own business in the streets, all these debauchery arrest victims should be immediately released.

"The Egyptian government, by rounding people up based on their presumed sexual orientation, is showing flagrant disregard for their rights."