Cairo: Egyptian officials have said they cut short their presence at a party, given by the Confederation of the African Football (CAF), in protest against performance by celebrated belly dancer Dina.
The party was held earlier this week in a Nile-side hotel in Cairo to mark a CAF congress in the presence of the FIFA President Sepp Blatter and other world football officials.
“Members of the [Egyptian] Football Association board left the venue of the party once Dina started her performance,” said Azmi Mejahed, the spokesman for the association. “The association members were surprised at having this performance in such an international event,” Mejahed said. “Our association was not responsible for organizing the ceremony or contracting Dina.”
Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdul Aziz stayed in an adjoining hall inside the hotel until Dina, one of Egypt’s most well-known dancers, ended the performance, local media reported.
There was no comment from the CAF on the controversy.
A video of Dina’s performance in the party went viral online, triggering harsh criticism.
“At the CAF general assembly, they decided to have belly dancer Dina as the star of the party. I don’t know whose brainchild was this,” wrote Khaled Al Ghandour, an ex-footballer, on his Facebook page. Dina’s performance drew even more fire.
“Who was the one who chose the belly dance item at the CAF party in the presence of world stars?” said Soha Ebrahim, a host of sports shows on Egyptian state television. “This is a scandal and farce,” she commented on the Facebook.
Dina, one of very few Egyptians in the once-thriving profession, reacted defiantly.
“I was not the only dancer in the party,” Dina said. “There were dancers from other nationalities too. I honored Egypt and presented a respectable performance,” she told independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm in remarks published on Thursday. “My agent confirmed to me that CAF officials had wanted me to perform. The hall was packed to capacity. I don’t know what all this fuss is about.”
Last September, the private Egyptian TV Al Qahera Wal Nas halted a belly- dance show hosted by Dina after the country’s top Islamic body condemned it as a “corruption of morals”.
With a surge of Islamism in Egypt in recent years, most Egyptian belly dancers have quit the profession, leaving it for foreigners to dominate.
However, makers of local films continue to spice them up with belly-dance as a crowd puller. Although TV concerts no longer feature belly-dancers, official and private broadcasters run old musicals starring dancers from the 1940s and 50s.