Viral dance video of Egyptian mother of three fuels women’s rights debate

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Dancing video of an Egyptian mother-of-three that went viral online prompting her husband to divorce her and her employers to sack her has reignited fierce debates over women’s rights.

The brief mobile phone video of Aya Youssef, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, shows her wearing a headscarf, trousers and a long-sleeved top as she dances alongside colleagues, smiling as she enjoys a river cruise on the Nile.

But the video, which has been shared widely on social media since it was posted earlier this month, has split opinion.

Some critics accuse her of breaching the conservative values of a largely Muslim society — while others stand firmly with her in solidarity.

In recent years, Egypt has witnessed several cases in which women have been subjected to defamation campaigns on social media, stirring angry demands for those responsible to be held to account.

It comes as rights groups warn of a broadening crackdown on freedom in the increasingly conservative North African nation ever since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office in 2014.

Youssef, in a recent interview with a private TV channel, said she had been “happy” on the trip and that her moves were “spontaneous”.

Other colleagues were dancing alongside her on the boat in the sunshine, some waving their hands in the air. “All of us were dancing,” she said.


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