Performer arrested for ‘harming public morals’ by dancing in music video

The actress and dancer Salma al-Foly was arrested on Monday on charges of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation” and “harming public morals” after a music video featuring the performer became widely popular on YouTube.

Sib Eddi” (Let go of my hand) has been viewed over 1 million times since it was posted online on May 18. The video does not contain nudity, but shows Foly dancing suggestively in a revealing outfit. The male singer also states “what the fuck” in English at one point in the song. 

Foly was reportedly arrested in a coffee shop in Giza’s Mohandiseen district. Local media reports of the arrest have conflicted, with some sources claiming two of her male companions who helped to produce the video were also arrested, while others allege that they are still wanted.

The performer will be held in custody for four days pending investigations, according to the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram. A trial date has already been set for Thursday at the Court of Urgent Matters.

It is not yet clear if Foly’s male colleagues would also stand trial.

The Agouza district prosecutor reportedly issued the warrant for the arrest of those involved in making the video to the Interior Ministry’s General Administration for the Protection of Public Morality.

Foly will be tried on charges of “lewdness, debauchery and promoting societal immorality,” Al-Ahram reported.

Last Wednesday, TV anchor Tamer Amin called the video “artistic prostitution” in a segment on his “Min al-Akher” talk show, adding that the male singer “held every part of [Foly] except her hand.”

Amin then lauded the Administrative Court’s Wednesday ruling to  block access to internet pornography in Egypt, but warned that videos like “Sib Eddi” prove that “other lewd content is being posted online.”

Several religious clerics also appeared on television on Wednesday to condemn the video clip as “immoral” and “promoting vice.”

Security forces appear to be cracking down on individuals accused of posting “lewd” videos online. In December, police arrested two transgender women for allegedly posting sexually explicit videos on YouTube.

In March, the renowned Armenian belly dancer Safinaz was prosecuted on charges of wearing a skimpy dance outfit designed to look like the Egyptian flag. She was sentenced to six months in prison and an LE15,000 fine, which she is now appealing.

The Penal Code mandates sentences ranging from fines to imprisonment for those who violate or offend “public morals.” Furthermore, in May 2014 a law was issued criminalizing the desecration of the Egyptian flag and disrespect for the national anthem.

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