Egyptian belly dancer and anti-Islamist activist Sama al Masri stated that she would run for parliament in the upcoming elections. The Egyptian woman not only shakes her hips as a dancer, but has spoken out very publicly against the Muslim Brotherhood, at great risk to her safety.
Masri’s announcement of her plan to run for parliament and to exact revenge upon the Muslim Brotherhood may be surprising to those unfamiliar with her work, since most people do not draw a connection between belly dancing and politics. Masri, however, has made a name for herself doing just that.
Masri got her start after a stirring personal reaction to the events on October 12, when Brotherhood members attacked liberal protesters in Cairo. The young woman, who had previously never been very politically active, was spurred to voice her anger at the tragic event. In a series of homemade videos, Masri began to share her political views, criticizing the Brotherhood, the former President Morsi and even President Obama, all while swaying her hips and singing in Arabic. Masri developed a following and, eventually, the attention of the media.
Masri’s video criticizing Obama is perhaps one of the more bizarre political satires about the president that exists. The Egyptian woman claims that Obama has sided with terrorists and even hints that the Egyptian Army could easily take the U.S in a fair fight, flexing her muscles and saying, “Listen to me; our army is very strong.” The video, which is filled with slang and profanity, is heavy-handed, but entertaining nonetheless and perhaps illustrates what American media has been sensing for some time; that the situation in many Middle Eastern countries is often misreported and convoluted by the time it reaches American ears. Even Obama’s best intentions have fallen flat, according to Masri, who calls him an “idiot” in the short music video (and a lot of four letter words; the lyrics are definitely not rated PG). Hopefully the belly dancer will find better ways of navigating U.S. relations with the Egyptian Parliament if her run for office proves successful.
Even though these political videos may be confusing to a Western audience, Masri feels confident that her popularity in Egypt is growing. She is currently running a pilot for her new television channel, designed to attack the Muslim Brotherhood and everything that the extremist group stands for and expects to have great success with the program. The concept of hosting a television show is not as benign as it may seem; Masri will be taking a direct and very public stance against the Brotherhood, who recently aired their own channel, Al Rabi’ah.
Surprisingly, Masri is not the only belly dancer who feels outraged about the state of politics in Egypt. Belly dancing has been all but wiped out of Egypt under Morsi’s regime. Every belly dancing channel was taken off the air and even ballet was condemned as indecent. Morsi’s people were on their way to segregating genders in many public spaces and banning any practices that were considered impure throughout Egypt. Belly dancers were being treated as social pariahs, turned away by landlords, and forced to pay bribes by police.
The belly dancing Sama al Masri is determined to succeed in running for a parliamentary seat in Egypt’s upcoming election because she is passionate about putting an end to the Muslim Brotherhood. Masri proposes new, stricter measures for weeding out terrorists and extremists and will ensure that they see justice if she wins her campaign.
By Lauren Martin