A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Follow-Up on the Reda El-Fouly Case

Here's a follow-up to my Friday post about the arrested belly dancers. particularly the case of Reda El-Fouly. Veteran Egypt hand Jane Gaffney has passed on some additional notes and given me permission to quote them here:
[A mutual friend] was over last night and we caught said "belly dancer" trying to defend herself on Wael Ibrashy's talk show 10PM.  Also present was her accuser, seemingly a member of the public who took offense at the lady's work. She tried to use her government license to practice her trade as evidence that her work was professional, not criminal. El Fouly also claimed that SHE had not posted the videos on YouTube and had no means to have them taken down. As you know, anyone in Egypt can lodge a complaint with the prosecutor's office and if this officer of the court finds that the case has merit, the government pursues a criminal case.  From Yousef Chahine to Adel Imam, many an artist or writer has found him or herself in this predicament.
But here's the kicker: While "Hands Off" was condemned, the real outrage it seems among many Egyptians is her rendition of a song-and-dance number performed by the late beloved Suad Hosny in the wildly popular 1970s film, Khalli Balik min Zouzou, a light-hearted tale of a college girl who captures the heart of the most handsome guy on campus.  Jealous co-eds conspire for him to find out that after school, she performs along with her mother, a professional belly dancer at weddings.  Hosny's song, Ya wed, ya ta'il, was cute and her dancing very modest.  Ibrashy's is also a call-in show, and among the callers was none other than the late performer's sister, who lambasted El Fouly for dishonoring her sister and a song that is emblematic of 1970s youth culture in the form of an innocent love story.
 And furthermore:
I forgot to mention one thing about the good lady [but it is too snarky to put into your blog?][My answer: no.] In addition to her horrible outfit on the talk show, she had blue eyes that looked fake!  Blue or green tinted contact lens are all the rage among Arab entertainers these days [along with hair extensions and bad nose jobs.]  This is likely the latest "Turkish drama" effect!  Turkey, I read somewhere, has the highest rate of green eyes in the world.
The lenses are also, it seems, a big fad among American teens in some places.  They are dangerous, because they are purchased without a doctor's exam/advice.  The worst of them are bigger than the normal eye, which can seriously harm the surface of the eye. I saw one Kuwaiti actress with what were clearly these outsized lenses.  Ah, what price "beauty?"
Now, the Suad Husni/Khalli Balak min Zouzou connection is very interesting. The late Suad Husni was one of the most popular actresses in Egyptian history. I have blogged before about the mysteries surrounding her death in London in 2001. Her 1972 film  Khalli Baliak min Zouzou (Watch Out for Zouzou) is perhaps her most famous film, and the song referenced above its most popular song. So this may account for some of the outrage. Don't mess with the sweetheart of Egyptian cinema. (The film also included the aging Tahia Carioca, in fact.)

Suad's rather restrained dance in Khalli Balak min Zouzou:

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