Egypt jails belly dancer for ‘debauchery’

The sentencing was part of a larger social media crackdown in an already-conservative country veering in a still more restrictive direction.

By World Israel News Staff

An Egyptian court sentenced a well-known Egyptian belly-dancer, Sama el-Masry, to three years in prison and fined her 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,500) on Saturday “for inciting debauchery and immorality,” Reuters reports.

The sentencing was part of a larger social media crackdown in an already-conservative country veering in a still more restrictive direction.

El-Masry was arrested in April as part of an investigation into social media videos and photos that the public prosecutors said were sexually suggestive.

The belly dancer, 42, denied she had shared the posts, saying the content was stolen from her phone and shared without consent, Reuters reports.

“There is a huge difference between freedom and debauchery,” said Egyptian Parliament Member John Talaat, who wanted el-Masry and others like her prosecuted.

Talaat told Reuters that female social media stars like el-Masry were destroying family values and traditions, regarded as illegal in Egypt.

“Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets,” Entessar el-Saeed, a women’s rights lawyer, told Reuters.

Similarly, in May 2012, Egypt’s vice police cracked down on a belly dancing TV station, which for a time outwitted them with technology

Its owner, Baligh Hamdy, recorded most of the videos from his apartment, then sent them over the internet to his partners in Bahrain and Jordan, who would in turn broadcast them on the station’s satellite TV, making it accessible in Egypt and elsewhere, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Egypt has a long tradition of belly dancing. Mothers teach daughters in their homes watching old movies.