Egypt belly dancers defy Islamists

2011-12-07 16:40

Cairo - Egyptian belly dancers vowed on Wednesday not to retire if Islamists take over in the predominantly Muslim country.

"My job is not against religion, so I will not quit," said celebrated Egyptian belly dancer Lucy.

"Egypt can prosper like Turkey - where an Islamist party reached power without banning entertainment and tourism, which are key sources of the national income," she said in remarks published in independent daily Al Shorouq.

The Islamists have made big gains in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, triggering fears that they will restrict freedoms and entertainment.

Belly dancing, popular for decades in the Middle East, is branded by the Islamists as immoral and un-Islamic.

"This is our job, which we will not give up," Al Shorouq quoted Safwa and Samara, two other Egyptian belly dancers, as saying.

"Belly dancing is an art like any other form of art," they added.

Recent statements by ultra-conservative Salafists have raised worries among Egyptian entertainers, some of whom have said they were considering leaving the country.

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