'Blasphemous' belly dance proves a shake too far for Egypt's Shiites

Published November 4th, 2012 - 05:00 GMT
Dina's controversial belly dance stirred a wave of anger among Shiites in Egypt (Film clip screenshot: YouTube)
Dina's controversial belly dance stirred a wave of anger among Shiites in Egypt (Film clip screenshot: YouTube)

Egypt’s culture ministry on Thursday censored a song in a popular new film, which hit the box office last week, after Islamist groups filed lawsuits against its producer, claiming the song insulted Islam.

“Abdu Mouta,” which is playing in theaters across the countru, recorded the highest one-day revenue in the history of Egyptian cinema, making LE2.5 million ($409,668) on the first day of Eid al-Adha last Friday, the Egypt Independent news website reported. 

But a belly dancer starring in the film had stirred a wave of anger among Shiites in Egypt as she dances to a song mentioning the names of Prophet Mohammed’s daughter, Fatima, and his grandsons, Hassan and Hussein. All three figures are revered in the Sufi and Shia sects of Islam. 

“Censorship Director Abdel Sattar Fathy will watch the film to make sure the offending part of the song is cut out artistically, and write a report of it, said the ministry,” Egypt Independent reported, adding that film producer Ahmed al-Sobky had requested the censorship.

Bahaa Anwar Mohamed, a leader in the Ghad al-Thawra Party and a prominent Shiite, said he would file a lawsuit calling for banning the movie to screen in theaters. 

Baha was quoted by Egypt’s al-Sabah newspaper last week as saying that the country’s Shiites would file a complaint to the general prosecutor against the film demanding to ban it from screening as it insults prominent Islamic figures.

Dina, the belly dancer, denied her performance in the movie was meant to offend Islamic prominent figures. Although the song “Virtuous Mother of Hassan and Hussein” praises Fatima, the fact that a belly dancer dances to it was seen as highly inappropriate.

Baha called on Egypt’s al-Azhar Islamic School and its Grand Mufti to condemn “such abuse” to the prophet’s family.

No official statistics are available regarding the number of Shiites in Egypt, but estimates put their population at less than 1 percent of the approximate 85 million population.

 

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