CAIRO: Armenian-Russian belly dancer Safinaz was officially charged Tuesday with “insulting the Egyptian flag” over a 2014 performance during which her costume bore the flag’s colors, Youm7 reported.
“It was a love letter to Egypt and its people, and there is no intent to insult,” said Safinaz Tuesday in a news conference about the case.
Egyptian businesswoman Shahinazal Nagar, who owns a hotel in the Mohandessin district of Giza, filed the lawsuit in indignation after the dancer appeared in a red, white, and black costume resembling the flag in June 2014.
The lawsuit was filed in accordance with a presidential decree issued in May 2013 by former President Adly Manour criminalizing insulting the Egyptian anthem and flag. The law is ambiguous about the meaning of “insult,” and does not include language specifying how a woman wearing the same colors as the flag qualifies as such.
The first session of the trial is due to be held March 16.
Safinaz, who is married to an Egyptian man, announced that she will never leave Egypt and will invest 3.5 million EGP in establishing a movie production company named “Mermaid.”
Safinaz’s lawyer, Ihab el-Saeed, said the true dispute is between her client and the hotel administration where the dancer was performing over the terms of her work contract.
In March, Safinaz was again arrested on charges of “insulting” the Egyptian flag; she was investigated and released on a 30,000 EGP fine ($3,932.)
Although Egypt allows public belly dancing, a traditional dance that is found at most weddings and many parties, the decency police are authorized to regulate conditions that should be followed by the dancers, such as the style of their costumes.