Egyptian teacher who belly danced with friends sacked after video of her went viral

Egyptian teacher who belly danced with friends sacked after video of her went viral
3 min read
06 January, 2022
After being designated an ideal teacher, a woman in northern Egypt has been sacked and referred to the administrative prosecution for questioning over dancing in a Nile boat during a trip with her co-workers.
Egyptian teacher sacked and referred to questioning before administrative prosecution after dancing at a friendly gathering [Getty]

A viral video of an Egyptian teacher belly dancing with four male co-workers has caused an outrcy (Arabic, external) among conservatives in the country, but women's rights advocates are hitting back at the "witch-hunt against women", saying the teacher did nothing wrong.

In the video in question, shot during a Nile boat trip organised by the local branch of the teachers’ syndicate in Mansoura in December last year, the teacher, named Aya Youssef, was seen belly dancing and smiling with her colleagues.

The New Arab has refrained from sharing the detailed footage for the sake of the privacy of the teacher.

Youssef, dubbed by the media ‘the Mansoura teacher,’ at the time was working as a volunteer Arabic teacher at a primary school in Dakahlia province.

The teacher and her colleagues, who appeared dancing in the footage taken during the trip, were referred by the local branch of the education ministry to the Administrative Prosecutor for questioning earlier this week.  

Youssef was also sacked even though she had been working as a volunteer for three years now and was not affiliated with the syndicate.

In Egypt, it is common for women, belonging to different social classes and backgrounds, to dance on special occasions like weddings, engagement parties and private friendly gatherings.

In support of personal freedom, a deputy director of a secondary school in Egypt posted her pictures on social media while dancing in her daughter’s wedding three years ago.   

Youssef vowed to take legal action against the person who filmed and posted the video online without her prior consent, saying that she encountered problems with her husband after the footage went viral.

In her defence, she said that she did not dance inside a public institution. Nor did she dance at school or in the presence of her students.

In 2018, an Egyptian university professor was fired from her position at Suez university after she posted a video on Facebook while belly dancing.

Prominent political sociologist Said Sadek, a feminist and an advocate of women’s rights, believes “there has been a moral witch-hunt against women in Egypt recently.”

“Moral women-related issues have been blown up deliberately in the media in the name of protecting public morals, which always means the clothing and behavior of women, not men, invading their privacy and using social to scandalise them,” Sadek told The New Arab.

“It is a tactic used to divert the public attention towards ongoing important crisis such as [the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam] GERD, corruption, etc.,” Sadek added.

“On the other hand, the educational sector is undergoing a shortage of teachers, schools, labs, and quality education in general. In order to escape criticism, they go after a teacher who merely danced".