Arrests in Egypt as schoolgirl commits suicide over internet shaming

Girl was allegedly being blackmailed for refusing to have relationship with two youths.

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Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 6:05 PM

Last updated: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 6:06 PM

Two youths were arrested Thursday over the suicide of a schoolgirl whom they were allegedly blackmailing with digitally altered photos of her on the internet.

The case of internet shaming and loss of a young life has stirred angry demands on social media in Egypt for those responsible to be held to account.

Basant Khaled, 17, who lived with her family in a village of northern Egypt, died after swallowing poison on December 23.

A source in the prosecutor general's office said she was being blackmailed after having refused to have a relationship with the youths.

The photos posted widely on social media were seen by her parents and classmates, the source and Basant's sister said.

"Her face had been attached to the body of someone else," their father, Khaled Chalabi, told local media. "She's my daughter, I know her well and she's not like that."

In a desperate suicide note to her mother, shared with Egyptian media, Basant appealed for her understanding.

"Mum, you have to believe me, I am not that girl, the images are fake, I don't deserve what happening to me," the teenager wrote.

The two youths are being held for four days of questioning over "extorsion and the use of social media in a way causing harm to others and that led to the death of a minor", the prosecutor's office said.

Police have also detained a teacher who had upset the girl in front of her class.

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