Rania Youssef, an Egyptian actress who recently attended the Cairo film festival in a dress, has been accused of “incitement to debauchery” over her red carpet attire in a lawsuit that could land her five years in jail.
According to The New York Times, the charges against Youssef are the most recent in a string of similar morality-focused cases targeting celebrities in an attempt to police clothing, behavior, and jokes. The cases are often unsuccessful, and even celebrities sentenced to jail time are frequently acquitted on appeal. For example, a pop singer who joked about the water quality in the Nile was recently sentenced to six months’ jail time only to have the sentence overturned. But that’s not always the case:
Egypt’s overcrowded prisons currently include a singer who was imprisoned for making lewd gestures in a pop video, and a female human rights activist who had broadcast a profanity-laced video on Facebook about being sexually harassed in public.
The dress, which the Times calls “revealing” and USA Today describes as “risque,” was pretty usual red carpet fare by American standards, black lace over a black bodysuit. Youssef has apologized for wearing it:
“I didn’t expect this reaction, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have worn this dress,” she said in a statement.
Her trial is set for January 12.