|Tahia Carioca in the 1930s or 1940s|
And now there is a different puritanism on the rise, of course. Yesterday the owner of the television satellite channel El-Tet, which broadcasts nothing but round-the-clock belly-dancing videos, was arrested and reportedly charged with "operating without a license, inciting licentiousness and facilitating prostitution." Baligh Hamdy reportedly sent videos from Egypt for broadcast from Jordan and Bahrain, which were then beamed by satellite back to Egypt, where El-Tet appears to have been quite popular. Other reports of the arrest here and here.
The belly-dance is a genuine folk tradition in Egypt, tracing back to the Ghawazee dancers described by E.W. Lane in his Manners and Customs; the popularity of the TV channel doubtless has as much to do with its being targeted as whatever actual offenses may have been committed.
Of course, even if the broadcasting authorities and the vice squad (apparently both were involved), manage to shut down the channel, it has a life of its own on YouTube. In protest of the latest attack on a genuinely popular art form now in decline, two of El-Tet's offerings, followed by one of the immortal Carioca from 1941.