Row over 3 new belly dance channels in Egypt
CAIRO - A group of unidentified businessmen has launched three international Arabic-language television channels as part of a project to promote Egyptian belly dancing in the region and abroad.
Each day lovers of Oriental dance enjoy watching this ancient Egyptian art el-Farah (Arabic for Joy), el-Teet and Darabuka (The Drum) channels on NileSat 1.
From Europe to Asia and North America, each day lovers of Oriental dance watch el-Farah (Arabic for Joy), el-Teet and Darabuka (the drum) channels on NileSat 1 to enjoy this ancient Egyptian art.
These three channels show professional and amateur dancers from around the world as well shoddy Egyptian singers, who take part in elaborate non-stop shows.
"If you haven't seen el-Farah or el-Teet or Darabuka, you have not seen real dancers or heard true Egyptian folk singers," said Aya Salah, a university student, who loves belly dancing.
However, Zainab Naguib said that she totally rejected the idea of launching these three channels, which she dismissed as immoral and vulgar.
"It is absolutely wrong and unnecessary to have these channels because they are offensive to our religion, honour and customs," Mrs Naguib told The Gazette yesterday, stating that the launching of el-Farah, el-Teet or Darabuka highlight the dangers posed by such offensive channels and that the three channels have nothing to do with personal freedom.
"If freedom harms others, it is no longer a freedom," she argued, adding that she considered belly dancers as sinful.
"These dancers are sinners because they wear outfits that do not cover the breasts, the belly button and what is below that. They also make gestures that awaken the sexual instincts of viewers," she explained.
Mrs Naguib, a veiled Government employee, added: "Freedoms and public rights are not absolute, they are limited by the respect of the family which is the base of the Egyptian conservative society that rejects any form of seduction."
Such entertainment forms are branded un-Islamic and are associated with prostitution, she asserted.
But, Fadi Habib, another young Government employee, disagrees with Mrs Naguib's views saying that he considered the three channels as a sort of relief from the daily grind in Egypt.
Habib said that he liked el-Farah and el-Teet because they had helped revive the pre-1952 Revolution golden age of Egyptian belly dance, embodied in the legendary Samia Gamal or Tahia Karioka, who kept the art in Egyptian hands.
For Lamia Amin, a secondary school student, these three channels were a good project to preserve Oriental dance, which she felt had not been given its rightful due. She pointed out that the new channels would broadcast entertainment programmes 24 hours a day to a potential audience of about 200 million young people in Arab countries.
"The three channels, which began work last month and can be received across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and North America, will serve as an important bridge to preserving Oriental dance.
Clad in revealing costumes and heavily make-up, the gaudily bejewelled women do not stop dancing and singing, Lamia said, adding that it was better to watch el-Farah or el-Teet or Darabuka than watch the region's depressing and sad news.
She maintained that belly dancing had grown in popularity outside of the Arab world in recent years.