A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Belly-Dancer Safinaz Briefly Busted (ahem) for Wearing Egyptian Flag Colors

If it's so offensive, why did Ahram Online publish it?
I'm sorry: ISIS killings, the destruction of antiquities, Netanyahu's attempt to hijack Congress, etc. have distracted me from other things, such as Egypt's arrest of one of its most popular belly-dancers for dressing in the colors of the Egyptian flag. Since there haven't been any major belly-dancer controversies since the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, I should note it here.

The Armenian-born dancer Safinar, better known as Safinaz, was summoned for investigation of charges that she insulted the Egyptian flag by dancing in a costume or the national colors (photo).

It is reportedly the second time she has been accused, the first being last year. I think the photo is from that incident. At the time she apologized and said she had meant no offense; it is not clear if this is a new incident or an arrest stemming from those charges. [UPDATE: See the comments.This seems to be a revival of the original complaint.]

Trying hard not to make "busted" jokes
Since coming to Egypt around 2013 she has been extremely popular. Last year she was the most-searched-for person on Google in Egypt. President Sisi was third.

This would suggest that even patriotic Egyptians may have felt she had found a new way to wave the flag, or at least bounce it patriotically.

One of her videos (from Jordan or somewhere; she'd have to wear more in Egypt these days):


YMedad said...

now i understand why so many are pushing for a Two State Solution here.

Anonymous said...

According to her interview on an Egyptian channel, the "flag color" performance happened over 9 months ago, and was an attempt on her part to express her happiness with the new government of the country she "loves" and works in. It seems it took the nine months from the date of the incident to when the prosecutor's office got around to dealing with the complaint of a citizen about what in his opinion was an insult to the flag. Suddenly the police showed up at her doorstep demanding that she appear before the prosecutor for interrogation, which she did in the company of her lawyer the next day. Despite her straightforward response to his questions, he decided to charge her anyway, so at some point there will be a trial. Meanwhile, she is out on $20,000 bail. Her accuser is also now saying that she is insulting the "Niqab" because she wore one to the police station for the interview in order not to be photographed into a big story. Of course, neither wearing or insulting the Niqab or wearing the colors of the Egyptian flag are crimes, but....

According to her the back story is that the man, a lawyer, it seems, works or used to work for a nightclub she used to perform in and with which she had a falling out, according to her, when they asked her to do some things that were illegal. This is supposedly his making good on a threat to ruin her lucrative career in Egypt.

Meanwhile, it seems that the hotel in which the nightclub sits is a hotel, the Nabila, owned by Ahmed Ezz and his wife. She said that she approached the wife, asking for her intervention but that the latter said that since she had no management control over that space, she could do nothing.

Safinaz is a Russian citizen for some reason, so if this goes badly, she could be deported. She has lots of jealous competitors at the very top of the list in Egypt, so this is a big deal.

One would think that El Sisi, who has already said that there are people in jail that shouldn't be and that he wished that the al Jazeera crew had never been brought to trial, would have passed along the word that silly and embarrassing cases like this should be declined by the prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

UPDATE: The other "Safinaz" in this drama is Safinaz Naggar [wife of steel magnet and first-tier pre-revolution "Gamalista," Ahmed Ezz]. she is the owner of the hotel where Safinar had once been performing. Angered at the coverage she received on Wa'el Ibrashy's talk show the other night, she is threatening to file a complaint about him with the public prosecutor. Ibrashy noted this on his last show, commenting that he would be happy to address his reporting, but was sure that the government had more pressing matters to attend to.

No doubt another aspect of this is the fact that Ibrashy is one of a chorus of public figures who are expressing their outrage that prominent former NDP figures like Ezz are planning to run in the upcoming elections and that no law bars them from doing so if they have been cleared of all pending criminal charges.

Michael Collins Dunn said...


I'm pretty sure the two entities in this post are referred to by many terms, but "states" isn't one of them.