Middle East

Egyptian chef arrested after making cupcakes with penis decorations

Egyptian security forces have arrested a pastry chef who supplied cupcakes with penis decorations for a private birthday party at a sporting club in a wealthy Cairo neighbourhood.

In the latest example of the Egyptian state’s attempts to control public morality, which tend to target women, the female chef was arrested at her home after party attenders shared photos of the cupcakes with members of the Gezira club and on social media.

State media reported that security forces identified the baker after taking statements from eyewitnesses.

The case attracted the attention of the minister for youth and sports, Dr Ashraf Sobhy, who oversees clubs such as Gezira. Sobhy said his department would form a committee to investigate the incident and punish alleged perpetrators.

The baker has been interrogated by the same misdemeanour court that recently tried the Egyptian actor Rania Youssef on charges of “contempt of Islam and infringing Egyptian family values”, after she commented on her own physique during a television programme.

Earlier this month two female TikTok influencers who served jail terms last year for “violating family values” and harming public morals were acquitted.

In June 2020 the renowned bellydancer Sama El Masry was jailed for three years and fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to £14,025) for violating family values and “immorality”.

Egypt’s tabloids delighted in publishing pictures of the cupcakes, with the offending decorations blurred out. Egypt’s largest state-owned newspaper, Al Ahram, described the confections as “indecent and immoral shapes”.

Timothy E Kaldas from the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy said: “On one level it’s hard not to be initially struck by the absurdity of penis cupcakes garnering the attention of state prosecutors, police investigators, members of parliament and the regime-controlled press. At the core of the matter is not the banning of sexuality in the public sphere, it is restricting sexuality that is outside the control of men.”

Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported that the pastry chef was in tears when she arrived at a prosecution office in Cairo. According to the paper, she told interrogators that patrons of the club “came to my shop and handed me pictures of genitals, and asked me for cakes in these forms”.

After questioning by prosecutors, the baker was released on a bail of 5,000 EGP (£233).