Egyptian Singer Banned From Performing After Questioning Free Speech
A popular Egyptian singer who suggested that her country doesn't respect free speech has been banned from performing in her country and could even face imprisonment.
Sherine Abdel-Wahab, known by her first name, was performing in Bahrain and said:
'Here I can say whatever I want.
'In Egypt anyone who talks gets imprisoned.'
Sherine had previously been sentenced to prison for six months last year when she joked about the Nile being polluted during another concert.
After she appealed and apologised for the 'bad joke', the sentence was suspended.
Egypt's Musicians Union responded to her lack of free speech claims last Friday by barring the singer from performing.
It also summoned her for questioning.
Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint against the singer accusing her of 'insulting Egypt and inviting suspicious rights groups to interfere in Egypt's affairs'.
The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of 'The Voice,' apologised again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking.
'I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt,' she said.
Egyptian authorities have waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.
The local media is dominated by pro-government outlets that attack anyone seen as criticising the country or its leaders, and several people have been jailed or fined for violating vaguely written laws against such criticism.
Thousands of people have been jailed or forced to leave the country since el-Sissi came to power, mainly Islamists but also a large number of secular activists, politicians and artists.