A viral video of an Egyptian mother dancing prompted her husband to divorce her and her employers to fire her
Aya Youssef, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, wears a headscarf, jeans, and a long-sleeved blouse as she dances with coworkers and smiles while enjoying a Nile river cruise in a brief video filmed on her phone.
Youssef’s husband divorced her after watching the video. This led to an angry reaction from popular Egyptian actress Somaya el-Khashab, saying it showed double standards.
“Why don’t men take their wives back?” Khashab asked.
“There are so many women who stand by their men when they even go to prison, for example, or don’t abandon their husbands when their conditions deteriorate.”
Youssef told Egypt’s El-Watan newspaper that she had no idea who had placed the footage online. Those who “defamed and wrecked her home” will face legal punishment, she added.
After the video was released online, some viewers were outraged by what they perceived as “unbecoming” behaviour.
One Twitter user said the teacher’s actions were “shameful”. Another user said he “couldn’t fathom how a married woman would dance in this lewd way”.
Egypt’s education ministry in Dakahlia region – northeast of Cairo – referred the teacher to a disciplinary committee. Soon she was sacked from her job in the city of Mansoura. Amid a subsequent outcry, she was reinstated this week.
Where is Egypt Heading?
Egypt has long been known as the birthplace of belly dancing, but in recent years, some belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted for internet content that was deemed too explicit or suggestive.
Egypt’s group of native dancers has shrunk, owing to the profession’s growing reputation as the country has become more conservative over the last half-century — as well as a broader assault on freedoms.