Egyptian police arrested a man allegedly caught on a surveillance camera assaulting a young girl in widely shared footage that caused public outrage.
It is not clear exactly when the video was recorded, but it went viral on social media on Monday night with many users calling for the perpetrator’s immediate arrest. It showed a man abusing a child near the staircase of a residential building in the upmarket Maadi district in the capital Cairo.
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He was confronted by a woman who opened the door of her apartment, an interruption that enabled the girl to escape, footage showed. The woman then pointed to a surveillance camera recording the incident.
“Security agencies were able to detain the person in question … to determine the circumstances of the incident that spread on social networking site Facebook showing a person sexually assaulting a girl,” a statement by the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
The arrested man was referred to the prosecutor, it added.
According to media reports, a team of investigators interviewed the woman who appeared in the video. She said the seven-year-old victim worked alongside her mother selling tissue boxes on the streets of the affluent neighbourhood.
Al-Azhar, the world’s foremost authority on Sunni Islam and based in Egypt, on Tuesday decried paedophilia in a tweet as “an aggressive crime that goes against any religion or humanity and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.
Twitter users in Egypt and the region expressed their shock and dismay at the incident. Some called for stricter laws when it comes to all forms of harassment, while others praised the woman who confronted the perpetrator.
According to the Egyptian penal code, the maximum penalty for sexually assaulting a child under the age of 18 is seven years in prison.
Egypt’s #MeToo movement has picked up momentum since last year, with many women coming forward to share testimonies of sexual misconduct.
United Nations surveys say most women in the conservative country have been subject to harassment ranging from catcalling, to pinching, groping and rape.