Mona Salem (AFP)
Cairo, Egypt ●
Fri, January 14, 2022
A video of an Egyptian mother-of-3 dancing that went viral on line prompting her husband to divorce her and her businesses to sack her has reignited a intense debate in excess of women’s rights.
The temporary mobile cellphone movie of Aya Youssef, a 30-yr-previous key university trainer, shows her wearing a headscarf, trousers and a very long-sleeved leading as she dances together with colleagues, smiling as she enjoys a river cruise on the Nile.
But the video, which has been shared greatly on social media given that it was posted before this month, has split feeling.
Some critics accuse her of breaching the conservative values of a largely Muslim culture — though other people stand firmly with her in solidarity.
In the latest decades, Egypt has witnessed several conditions in which gals have been subjected to defamation campaigns on social media, stirring offended calls for for those responsible to be held to account.
It arrives as legal rights teams alert of a broadening crackdown on independence in the ever more conservative North African nation at any time since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took business in 2014.
Youssef, in a new interview with a personal Television channel, explained she had been “joyful” on the vacation and that her moves ended up “spontaneous”.
Other colleagues were dancing together with her on the boat in the sunshine, some waving their palms in the air. “All of us were being dancing,” she said.
Sacked, then reinstated
But just after the video was shared on the web, some who watched offered scathing comments on what they noticed as “unbecoming” habits.
One particular Twitter consumer, Jihad al-Qalyubi, claimed the teacher’s actions have been “shameful”.
A different, Ahmed al-Beheiry, said he “couldn’t fathom how a married girl would dance in this lewd way”.
But in a country in which 90 p.c of women aged amongst 18 and 39 documented owning been harassed in 2019, in accordance to a survey by the Arab Barometer exploration community — other individuals had been supportive.
Just after the video clip went viral, Egypt’s instruction ministry in Dakahlia area, northeast of Cairo, referred the trainer to a disciplinary committee, the place she was sacked from her career in the metropolis of Mansoura.
Amid a subsequent outcry, she was this week reinstated.
Nihad Abu al-Qumsan, head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, defended the teacher and supplied her a job.
“We will request the court docket about the suitable dance regulations — so that all gals would conform to the suitable procedures if they dance in their brother’s or their son’s weddings, or at birthdays,” Qumsan mentioned sarcastically.
The truth that Youssef’s partner also divorced her soon after looking at the online video prompted an angry response from well known Egyptian actress Sumaya al-Khashab, saying it showed double benchmarks.
“Why will not gentlemen just take their wives back?” Khashab asked.
“There are so numerous women of all ages who stand by their adult men when they even go to prison, for case in point, or will not abandon their husbands when their circumstances deteriorate,” she extra.
‘Defamed and ruined her’
Youssef explained to Egypt’s Al-Watan newspaper that she did not know who experienced printed the video online, but vowed lawful action from these who “defamed and ruined her household”.
It is not the very first such scenario of online shaming to have activated anger in Egypt.
Two younger adult males were being arrested this 7 days right after a 17-12 months-previous schoolgirl fully commited suicide very last thirty day period.
She swallowed poison right after she was allegedly blackmailed with digitally altered images soon after she reportedly refused to have an affair with them.
And in July 2021, a Cairo court docket sentenced two girls to 6 and 10 several years in prison for “breaching general public morals” just after they experienced published video clips on the social media channel TikTok.
They have been among the a dozen social media “influencers” arrested in 2020 for “attacking society’s values” in Egypt.
Viewpoints are shifting Egypt has very long been regarded as the birthplace of belly dancing, but various belly dancers and pop singers have been qualified in latest yrs about on the internet content material deemed way too racy or suggestive.
Egypt has seen its group of homegrown dancers shrink, mostly because of to the profession’s increasing notoriety as the place has turn out to be far more conservative about the earlier half-century — and to a broadening crackdown on freedoms.