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Lebanese Entertainer Lands Muslim Brotherhood in Hot Water | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat-Lebanese entertainer Dolly Shahine has landed the Muslim Brotherhood in hot water among its Islamist allies after performing at an event hosted by the organization’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) . Shahine performed at an event aimed at promoting tourism in the coastal city of Hurghada a few days ago; this event was held under the auspices of the FJP and the Al-Wasat Party.

The Dolly Shahine scandal has captured Egyptian public opinion; some are taking it seriously while others are using it as a means of satire, illustrating the political contradictions in the country. However, Helmy Al-Jazzar, secretary of the FJP in Giza, has stressed that his party was not solely responsible for the event; rather it was held under the auspices of more than twenty parties and organizations, and that the FJP’s role was merely ceremonial.

Those attending the ceremony, who were entertained by the Lebanese performer singing and dancing, were surprised by the subsequent stinging attack launched against the Muslim Brotherhood by some Salafis on social networking websites, after a clip of Shahine performing at the event was circulated online. Critics deemed the performance to be provocative.

Sheikh Mohammed Saad Azhari, a Salafi leader and a member of the Egyptian constituent assembly, criticized the FJP and its sponsorship of the event in Hurghada, which was aimed at increasing international tourism. In a statement to the press, Sheikh Azhari said, “The leaders of the FJP should not be attending an event where there are women wearing provocative outfits, and this is a slip-up on their behalf”.

For her part, Shahine commented on the backlash against her performance, telling Asharq Al-Awsat, “I am an Arab artist doing my job. I do not have any stake in Egyptian politics and am far removed from any (Egyptian) political action, especially since I am Lebanese. Nevertheless, I cannot deny my support for the Egyptian revolution.” With regards to the ceremony, Shahine claimed she had received an invitation from the Mira Group for Tourism and Event Planning to participate in a concert to mark the national day of the Red Sea governorate, and also to celebrate the Russian-Egyptian Friendship Society in Hurghada, with the aim of promoting tourism.

Shahine went on to say, “I immediately agreed without hesitation to contribute in any way to Egyptian tourism”, adding that she did not receive any fee for her performance and was the only Arab artist to participate at the event, which was attended by a number of artists, sports personalities, and media figures. On the same day of the ceremony, a press conference was held in the presence of the governor of the Red Sea, the environment minister, a representative from the ministry of tourism, as well as representatives from some Egyptian parties, but Shahine denied knowing anything about this. She added, “That evening I simply went to the concert, which was a successful event by any standards.” Shahine expressed surprise at her name being dragged into a political dispute which she characterized as “Egyptian internal affairs that have nothing to do with me”, confirming that her contract was with the event planning company and not with the FJP. She even posted the agreement on her own social networking page. Shahine expressed her hope that political scores were not being settled at the expense of artists, and condemned the fact that her name was being used in what she called “a cheap political game”.

For his part, Dr. Mazhar Shaheen, an imam and orator at the Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir Square, commented sarcastically on the incident, saying, “How wonderful that the Muslim Brotherhood has implemented Dolly Shahine-eqsue Islamic Sharia law, under the auspices of the Freedom and Justice Party, as we saw in a recent conference to promote tourism. However, the very important question that remains is: Are events of this sort a mistake, or are things that are prohibited permissible by necessity?