Egypt arrests controversial belly dancer

Ahram Online, Monday 21 Apr 2014

Sama El-Masry to be detained for four days over charges of running an unlicensed TV station which she uses to mock Islamists and the opposition

Sama Al-Masri
Belly dancer Sama Al-Masri

Egyptian authorities on Sunday arrested a well-known belly dancer whose engagement in politics has caused much controversy.

Sama El-Masry was ordered to be detained for four days pending investigations into allegations of operating a satellite channel without a license, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

El-Masry has been increasingly in the limelight since she started releasing amateur videos in which she bluntly mocked Islamists during the rule of president Mohamed Morsi.

In one of her videos, she jibed at US President Barack Obama in a song and dance routine, accusing him of meddling in Egypt's affairs.

In January, she launched her own channel, 'Feloul', an Arabic word commonly used since the 2011 uprising to refer to supporters of or figures in the old regime.

Often using crude language, El-Masry has repeatedly ridiculed the opposition and praised the army, which led the ouster of Morsi last year on the back of massive protests against him.

The channel, reportedly broadcast from Jordan, has not been shut down and can still be seen in Egypt. Official sources say the station cannot be closed because it broadcasts from overseas and does not fall under the authority of the state-run Media production city -- where most private Egyptian TV and radio channels are based.

El-Masry was arrested, alongside several of the channel's staff, from her flat in Giza's Dokki district, Al-Ahram said. Equipment and cameras were confiscated.

Controversial lawyer Mortada Mansour, who had announced he would run for presidency before backtracking on Saturday, has filed a lawsuit against El-Masry, accusing her of spreading obscenity as well as libel and defamation. But it is unclear if his complaint was behind the dancer's arrest


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