Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

A viral video of Egyptian teacher dancing prompted her husband to divorce her and divide opinions across the country.

A video of an Egyptian mother-of-three dancing online went viral, urging her husband to divorce her and her employers to fire her, sparking heated debates over women’s rights.

The short video of Aya Youssef, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, shot on a cellphone shows her wearing a headscarf, trousers and a long-sleeved top while dancing and smiling with colleagues while on a river cruise enjoy on the Nile.

But the video, which has been widely shared on social media since it was posted earlier this month, has divided opinions.

Some critics accuse her of violating the conservative values ​​of society while others stand in solidarity with her.

Egypt has over the past few years witnessed several cases in which women have been subjected to libel campaigns on social media, which has sparked furious demands that those responsible should be held accountable.

It comes as real groups warn of a broadening the suppression of freedom in the North African nation since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took office in 2014.

Youssef said in a recent interview with a private TV channel that she was “happy” on the trip and that her movements were “spontaneous”.

Other colleagues danced next to her on the boat in the sunshine, some waving their hands in the air.

Dismissed, then reset

But after the video was shared online, some viewers made sharp comments about what they considered to be “inappropriate” behavior.

One Twitter user said the teacher’s actions were “shameful”, while another said he “could not fathom how a married woman would dance in this immoral way”.

But in a country where 90 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 39 reported being harassed in 2019, others were supportive.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s education ministry in the Dakahlia region – northeast of Cairo – referred the teacher to a disciplinary committee, where she was fired from her job in the city of Mansoura. Amid a subsequent outcry, she was re-appointed this week.

Nihad Abu al-Qumsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, defended the teacher and offered her a job.

“We will ask the court about the correct dance rules – so that all women will comply with the right rules when they dance at their brother or son’s weddings, or on birthdays,” al-Qumsan said sarcastically.

The fact that Youssef’s husband also divorced her after watching the video provoked an angry reaction from the popular Egyptian actress Somaya el-Khashab, saying it showed double standards.

“Why don’t men take their wives back?” asked Khashab.

“There are so many women who stand by their husbands when they go to jail, for example, or do not let their husbands down when their conditions deteriorate.”

Youssef told Egypt’s El-Watan newspaper she did not know who posted the video online, but promised legal action against those who “slandered and destroyed her house”.

This is not the first case of online scandal that has sparked anger in Egypt.

Two young men were arrested this week after a 17-year-old schoolgirl committed suicide last month.

She swallowed poison after she was allegedly blackmailed with digitally altered photos after she allegedly refused to have a relationship with them.

In July last year, a Cairo court sentences two women to six and 10 years in prison for “violating public morals” after publishing TikTok videos.

They were among a dozen social media “influencers” arrested in 2020 for the “attack on society’s values” in Egypt.

Egypt has long been considered the birthplace of belly dancing, but several belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted over the past few years over online content that is considered too noisy or suggestive.

Egypt has seen its community of home-grown dancers shrink, largely due to the profession’s growing popularity as the country has become more conservative over the past half-century – and from a broader suppression of freedoms.

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