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Egyptian Belly-Dancer– Islamists Face Off - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tens of thousands of Egyptians packing Tahrir Square in 2011, with Islamist groups dominating the demonstration. (Khaled Desouki / AFP)

Tens of thousands of Egyptians packing Tahrir Square in 2011, with Islamist groups dominating the demonstration. (Khaled Desouki / AFP)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – A female entertainment artist has entered the political fray in Egypt thanks to a satirical video clip that has aroused the anger of the country’s Islamist political trends. YouTube has lately been inundated with video clips satirizing Egypt’s political establishment, while clips of belly-dancer Sama El Masri lampooning some Egyptian political and religious figures are amongst the most popular of these. This has resulted in lawyers raising two lawsuits against the Egyptian belly-dancer, accusing her of inciting sedition and defaming Islam.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, El Masri stressed that she has every right to express her opinion about the Egyptian Islamist-dominated government. She also clarified that she did not like some of the viewpoints being put forward by Egypt’s civil opposition, saying “this lacks a sense of humour.”

Lawyer Nabih El Wahsh issued accusations against Sama El Masri – via Egypt’s Public Prosecution – of harming Egyptian national security by inciting chaos and sedition. He also raised a second lawsuit accusing the Egyptian belly-dancer of slandering and defaming Islam.

El Wahsh called on Egypt’s entertainment industry to blacklist the artist, saying she should not appear on Egypt’s screens or radio or even in the media.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, El Wahsh denied that he was tasked with raising these lawsuits against El Masri on behalf of banned Egyptian Islamist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. He said “I volunteered to defend respectable art from intruders and entertainment figures who undress to become famous.”

The lawyer asserted that the case is not just about slander or defamation but rather about this general phenomenon of satirical video clips being posted on some websites, including the clip of Sama El Masri. He claimed that this represents incitement to resist the legitimacy of the government and the law in addition to contempt of the Islamic religion. El Wahsh emphasized that these video clips break the law, adding that Egypt must preserve its religious and legal institutes from such figures.

For her part, Sama El Masri completely denied El Wahsh’s accusations, including an accusation of receiving bribes. She told Asharq Al-Awsat “I am not being paid by anybody.” She also revealed that she intends to file a counter-lawsuit against El Wahsh accusing him of libel, slander, and tarnishing her image.

El Masri added “accusations of contempt of religion being made against me are nothing new, and a number of [Egyptian] stars previously faced similar accusations.”

She asserted that she is not afraid of the lawsuit that has been raised against her, adding that she has complete faith in the Egyptian judiciary.

El Masri also revealed that she is not happy about what is happening on the Egyptian political scene, stressing that she has every right to express her opposition, describing the video clips in question as “a means of artistic opposition.” She said that it is her right as an Egyptian citizen to express her opinion, emphasizing that she does not criticize particular figures, but rather government policies in general.