Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention of a little-known female singer over a racy video posted online, the second female singer to face legal action within a month. The prosecutors charged Laila Amer with violating public decency and inciting debauchery in the video, titled “Bos Omak,” or “Look at Your Mother” a pun on a popular Arabic profanity. She was arrested Wednesday (Jan. 3).
Amer appears in the three-minute clip belly dancing and making provocative gestures. It shows her playing a downtrodden housewife complaining to her husband about his bossy mother. Lawyer Ahmed Mahran, who filed a complaint with authorities over the video, said the clip contributed to “destroying morality and disseminating vice.”
Egypt’s musicians union cancelled Amer’s membership and said in a statement that her video was “an insult to the Egyptian people,” according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. Last month, Shaimaa Ahmed, another female singer whose stage name is Shima, faced similar charges and was sentenced to two years in prison, which was reduced to one year on appeal.
Ahmed’s video, titled “Andy Zerof,” or “I’ve Got Circumstances”, showed her dancing in her underwear and suggestively licking an apple and eating a banana before a classroom of young men. Similar cases have been brought before Egyptian courts in recent years.
In 2015, an Egyptian court sentenced two belly dancers, known as Shakira and Bardis, to six months in prison following their conviction on charges of inciting debauchery. Their sentences were later reduced to three months.
Egyptian authorities have been criticized in recent years for their crackdown on dissent and freedoms. In September, they arrested dozens for waving an LGBT rainbow flag at a Cairo concert by a popular Lebanese indie rock band whose lead singer is openly gay. The band, Mashrou’ Leila, was later banned from performing in Egypt.
Egypt is a majority Muslim nation that has steadily grown more conservative over the past half century. However, it remains far more liberal than Gulf Arab nations, with a relatively vibrant arts and music scene.
Watch the video below.