For Egypt’s budding musicians, art is not just about creativity but also ‘decency’, or risk penalties which include serving a jail term and, or fine.
For others, the tugging that comes with being ‘indecency’ or portraying Egypt or Egyptians in a negative manner, brings punitive consequences including ‘death’ of one’s art career.
Just two days ago, an upcoming musician by the name Shyma was sentenced to two years following a video release in which she is dancing suggestively in her underwear.
The 21-year old singer was fined $563 by a Cairo court for “inciting debauchery” in a music video clip.
In the video, the young musician appears to be dancing in her underwear and suggestively eating an apple and a banana, as young men in a classroom watch.
In conservative Egypt, this attracted uproar on social media. Local TV talkshows even discussed the issue. In the end, the singer took to Facebook to apologize for the video, saying she had not anticipated the hostile response.
“I didn’t imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone, as a young singer … who has dreamt from a young age of being a singer,” she wrote.
Crack down on artists has been on the rise. Several artists have been jailed, fined or undergoing investigation following their utterances or acts that are considered inappropriate in Egypt.
Sherine Abdel Wahab, an Egyptian singer is facing trial after comments about the Nile at a concert in the United Arab Emirates.
The pop singer joked about the Nile waters saying it would cause a disease, which the Egyptian government was trying to eradicate.
The lighthearted remark resulted in a backlash after a video of the performance went viral, leading to the creation of #IWillDrinkFromtheNileandWon’tListentoSherine.
The singer is facing two lawsuits, one being, “insulting the Egyptian state”. She will also be charged with breaching an article in Egypt’s penal code which criminalizes deliberate broadcasting information or “false or tenacious rumours”.
Others caught in the web include Doaa Salah a presenter on Al-Nahar TV who was charged and convicted with outraging public decency. She spoke on air about sex before marriage and suggested women could get married to have children before divorcing.
A novelist Ahmed Naji was imprisoned for violating public modesty through his published sexually-explicit excerpt from a novel he authored.
Women rights advocate Azza Soliman was arrested under unclear circumstances sparking condemnation from Egyptian human rights activists. They argued they were being subjected to a severe government clampdown.
Shyma, the Egyptian singer charged for “inciting debauchery”