The belly dancer and the Brotherhood

Foreign PolicyFebruary 4, 2014 

— Has Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood entered that stage where it begins to resemble a farce? Judging by the belly dancer threatening to expose the Brotherhood’s deepest secrets, the answer would appear to be a resounding “yes.”

The Egyptian belly dancer and actress Sama el-Masry has just announced that she would run in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections, and in doing so, she vowed to exact revenge on the Muslim Brotherhood. “I will run in the elections, and I will hopefully win them so I can show the Brotherhood every day who they really are,” she told the Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. Moreover, Masry said that she would seek a seat in the Sharqiyah governorate, the home district of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

But that’s not the end of Masry’s strangely aggressive anti-Brotherhood campaign. The belly dancer also claims to have a “special surprise” in store for the Brotherhood on her new show, “Ayouh Bah.” According to the dancer, the program will “uncover all the traitors and agents” in the Brotherhood – a tall order, but one that sounds very much in keeping with the Egyptian government’s escalating crackdown on the Islamist group.

Masry is better known for her kooky political activism than her belly-dancing, though she often finds creative ways to combine the two. She attracted international attention last year with a video that criticized the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the video, Masry shakes her hips against a backdrop of photo-shopped pictures, including one of President Obama dressed in a hijab. Blowing away wisps of fan-blown hair and batting her eyes for the camera, she calls Anne Patterson, the then-U.S. ambassador to Egypt, an “old, bitch woman,” and sings that she will stab Obama if he doesn’t end his support for the Brotherhood.

But that’s just the start of Masry’s fairly long repertoire of satirical – and very public – displays of anti-American sentiments. When Patterson’s term as an ambassador came to an end in August of last year, Masry gathered her entourage outside the U.S. embassy to celebrate the departure of the deeply controversial diplomat. A band of trumpet players and drummers followed her as she chanted anti-American slogans. Inexplicably, she was also accompanied by a sheep draped in an American flag.

Unsurprisingly, Masry is also a big supporter of the Egyptian military. In her anti-Obama video, she eyes the camera flirtatiously as she clenches her fists and sings, “Our army is very strong.” In the video slamming Patterson, a supporter walks alongside her while waving a photo of Egypt’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

With her latest crusade against the Brotherhood, perhaps she will inject a crucial but as yet missing element in the Egyptian government’s fight against the Brotherhood: sex appeal.

Judge for yourself.

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