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Egypt criticised for jailing belly dancers

The singers, Omar Kamal (L) and Hamo Beeka (C), were convicted of “violating family values”. Photo: BBC

Human rights groups have criticised an Egyptian court for jailing 2 popular singers over a video they made with a Brazilian belly dancer, BBC reports.

In the clip, they are seen lip-synching and smiling as the dancer, in a long dress and jacket, performs her moves.

The video was a YouTube hit in 2020 and has clocked up millions of views.

But the court in Alexandria found the men guilty of “violating family values” in what is being seen as part of a wider crackdown on artistic expression.

They were also convicted of profiting from the video starring the dancer Lordiana, who has become well-known in Egypt for her slinky moves.

The singers – Hamo Beeka and Omar Kamal – were sentenced to a year in prison and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($540; £435). If they pay the same amount on top as a fee, they can have their jail terms suspended.

Human Rights Watch says Egypt is increasingly relying on what it calls “abusive and ill-defined family values” to exert control over social media.

It is calling for cybercrime law articles that it says criminalise free expression to be repealed.

At least a dozen young women acting as social media influencers have been accused of violating the law, with courts giving them hefty fines and sentences of up to 5 years in jail.

Writing by Muzha Kucha