Recently, Egyptian actress Sama El-Masrii made headlines when she was spotted visiting the tomb of late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This occurred yesterday, July 23rd—the anniversary of the 1952 revolution which turned Egypt into a republic (admittedly, a republic in name only).
El-Masrii said she was just passing by the tomb when she became curious by the people congregating outside. After being told it was the anniversary of the July 23rd revolution, she read “Al-Fatiha,” the first chapter of the Quran, and the traditional sura of choice for the souls of the dead.
This beckoned two instances of controversy.
Firstly, attendees were angry at El-Masrii for failing to remove her shoes, a break of social protocol at the site.
Secondly, she’s provoked outrage by being a dancer.
Egyptian society loves dancers; it’s seemingly impossible to watch an Egyptian movie without being subjected to the cynical, existential crisis-inducing sway of a bellydancer’s hips. Good luck avoiding the same at an Egyptian wedding.
But Egypt probably doesn’t like dancers: because, as we all know, dancers are immoral, inhuman husks, incapable of feeling respect for dead state leaders.
Or maybe this is another case of hypocrisy in action.
Admittedly, Sama El-Masrii likes her controversy. She liked her controversy when she said she’d run for Parliament and she liked her controversy when she said she’d host a religious program on TV.
But also admittedly, maybe the best way to respect a dead state leader, no matter how controversial, involves not kicking out people who come to pay tribute.
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