Egypt hotel gang rape allegations ignite new #MeToo wave

Farid Farid
·2 min read
Protesters in 2013 hold up placards and shout slogans during a demonstration against sexual harassment in Egypt's capital Cairo (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)
Protesters in 2013 hold up placards and shout slogans during a demonstration against sexual harassment in Egypt's capital Cairo (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)

Cairo (AFP) - A gang rape allegation at a luxury hotel in Egypt stemming from a prominent social media account has triggered a new #MeToo wave in the deeply conservative country.

The alleged assault took place at the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel in Cairo in 2014 where a group of six men drugged and raped a young woman, according to several social media accounts

Names and pictures of the figures accused, who hail from elite families, have circulated online, but AFP has been unable to verify their authenticity.

AFP spoke to a source close to the victim who corroborated details of the 2014 rapes posted online.

The victim was unwilling to comment publicly for fear of a backlash.

No official investigation has been launched so far, as tweets flood in under the hashtag #FairmontIncident.

Young Egyptian women posting testimonials of sexual misconduct earlier this month triggered a national outcry which led to the arrest of Ahmed Bassam Zaki, 22, a former student of some of Egypt's most elite schools and universities.

On July 4, authorities detained Zaki who confessed to assaulting at least six girls including one aged under 18 and blackmailing the victims, according to prosecutors.

Egypt's National Council for Women on Wednesday condemned retaliatory threats made against women exposing sexual misconduct.

The council "stands by every woman and girl exposed to any... threat by providing all necessary support", it said.

It also called on females "who might be subjected to harassment and/or threats to immediately report through the official reporting mechanisms".

Egypt's minister of international cooperation, Rania al-Mashat, for her part, posted a supportive message on Instagram: "To all the girls out there, we hear you".

The Fairmont Hotel has said it carried out an investigation of the graphic claims posted online.

"An internal investigation was undertaken by the hotel upon receipt of knowledge of the disturbing allegations," Yara ElDouky, Fairmont's communication director, told AFP.

"We can confirm that at no time were any reports of the incident filed to the hotel, nor to the hotel’s tourism police," she said.

"All personnel at the hotel are committed to assisting the relevant authorities and we will continue to offer our unfettered support," she added.

The allegations come as Egypt sentenced to jail several young female influencers on popular app TikTok on charges of violating public morals.

A 2013 study by UN Women found that 99% of women in Egypt had at some point in their lives been sexually harassed, either verbally or physically.