Yasmin Al-Narsh, aged 40, was the catalyst for incredibly heated social media debate after a video of an altercation between her and a police officer at Cairo International Airport went viral on April 28.
According to Al-Ahram Online, Al-Narsh – dubbed the ‘Airport Woman’ on social media – was sentenced to four years in prison for drug possession and assaulting an officer. She also was required to pay a fine of 50,000 LE.
The incident took place after Al-Narsh tried to board a domestic flight en-route to Hurghada that her daughter was already on, according to Mada Masr. She was informed by the airport officials that she was late, after waiting three hours to board.
According to Al-Ahram Online, she was verbally abused by the policemen at the airport as well as the tourism police, and asking her whether the drink in her hand in head was whiskey or water – which led her to lose her temper.
Afterwards, according to Youm7, the accused was arrested several days later after the incident – following a search of her personal belongings and the discovery of illegal drugs in her possession (200 grams of hash). General Attorney Hisham Barakat later referred Al-Narsh to the criminal court on the charges of drug possession and assaulting an officer.
During the court hearing held on Saturday, the general prosecutor commented that Al-Narsh “used force and threatened the policeman.” Furthermore, he added that, “[she] removed her garments, showing parts of her body, which are shameful acts in the airport lounge.”
According to Mada Masr, Al-Narsh responded to these accusations in her testimony, saying that she was assaulted by four policewomen in the airport’s bathroom who took her purse and planted the drugs. “If I were carrying contraband, I would’ve been scared and left so I didn’t get arrested,” she added.
Since the incident, Al-Narsh was subjected to a wave of criticism on social media platforms and television shows following the release of the video – commenting on her behaviour due the powerful stance of her family in the country.
There has been several questions raised after the incident – most notably, questions regarding the media’s biased stance on the situation.
An instance of this, Lamis Al-Hadidi, CBC Presenter, interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Hazem Fawzi, the officer in the video. According to Al-Araby news, the CBC presenter praised him for calmly handling the situation. Colonel Fawzi responded by explaining how a police officer should always keep his emotions in-check and respect the laws at all times.
On the other end of the spectrum, tech-savvy users took to social media platforms to protest what, to them, seemed like an arbitrary and disproportional response, especially considering the issues raised regarding whether or not the police actually planted the drugs on her person. One user on Twitter, @arigyoussry, said “I am not defending her, but four years?! The people that killed and recorded it didn’t take four days.” (Translated)
Information gathered from Al-Ahram Online, MadaMasr, The Cairo Post, Al-Araby, Youm7, and Twitter .
Photo credits go to The Cairo Post.