Manpower Minister’s call to deport Safinaz stirred sarcasm on social networking
Armenian belly dancer Safinaz - YOUM7/Mostafa Mortada
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: Social media users mocked Minister of Manpower Nahed Ashry, who called on the Egyptian authorities to deport Armenian belly dancer Safinaz on claims she insulted Egypt by wearing an outfit fashioned after the Egyptian flag and that she does not hold a work permit.

In its facebook page, Tahrir news submitted a question Wednesday; “What is your comment on the Manpower Minister’s request to deport Shahinaz?”

“They are punishing her for dancing, but the minister herself did some political dancing in the cabaret that was during the presidential elections,” a Facebook user posted.

The Armenian belly dancer was summoned by the Attorney-General over the Egyptian flag-inspired dancing costume she wore during a party in a Red Sea resort, Al Ahram reported Monday.

A couple of days earlier, several activists criticized Safinaz’s behavior after they saw pictures of her, performing in a party in Hurghada, dressed in the said dancing outfit.

“I danced with the flag to please the Egyptian people but I did not mean to offend them in any way,” Safinaz said in an interview with Al-Hayat TV Tuesday adding that she wanted to make a gesture of love to Egypt.

While Ashry said her request was based on the laws governing foreign manpower in Egypt while Safinaz’s lawyer, Zakareya Ismail defied the minister saying “Nobody can make Safinaz leave, since all her residency and work documents are in compliance with the law.”

Ismail said his client acted out of a “good intention”, explaining that she wore a belly dancing outfit that bore the colors of the Egyptian flag, red, white and black but not its design, Youm7 reported Wednesday.

Many laughed at Ashry’s call saying they would tolerate with any form of ‘injustice’ in Egypt, but not the deportation of Safinaz.

“Let us first solve the problems of Egypt’s labor before criticizing Safinaz,” a user said on the Tahrir news facebook page.

Insulting the Egyptian flag is punishable by law according to a presidential decree issued in May, which states that insulting Egypt’s flag is punishable by up to a year in prison and 30,000 EGP ($4, 190) fine.

The Revolutionary Forces Bloc filed a complaint against Safinaz accusing her of “offending the Egyptian flag.”

Member of the bloc’s political bureau Mohamed el-Said, who filed the complaint, said in a facebook statement that the incident was a crime that is punishable by law, adding that the block will demand Safinaz to leave the country.

Lawyer Samir Sabry said Safinaz will not be convicted as she wore the flag-inspired costume with“Goodwill” to praise Egypt, according to Youm7.

Head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate in Tanta Galal Shalaby said the flag’s ‘prestige’ must be respected considering Safinaz’ behavior “unethical,” according to Youm7.

Safinaz comes from Armenian origins and lived in Russia before she settled in Egypt over three years ago.

Additional reporting by Mohamed el-Sayed, Hazem Adel, Rania Amer and Mohamed el-Alem.

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