Egyptian pop singer and bellydancer Sama El Masry has a pretty simple formula for her YouTube videos: dance hypnotically in front of random stock photography and undulating screensavers. These hyperactive pop videos border on the absurd and are easy to dismiss as a joke.
Yet, they’ve become a medium for Egyptian political dissent.
Late last year, she released a video called “Act Thuggish,” taking aim at the Muslim Brotherhood, which promptly went viral. It has since been removed from YouTube, but it stirred up support on social media. Now, El Masry is back with her next hit.
Her latest video, titled “You Obama, Your Father, Mother,” takes aim at President Obama and his support of the Muslim Brotherhood and former President Mohamed Morsi. There are several images of Obama being manipulated to the point of caricature throughout the song, even one in which he resembles Shemp from The Three Stooges. She also goes after the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, and drops a B-bomb on her.
About halfway through, El Masry brandishes a dagger, points it at an image of Obama, and sings, “Stop this or I will stab you.”
The video is on its way to becoming viral once again, as Egyptians increasingly share their anti-American dissent via social media. El Masry has an engaged Twitter presence, and her Facebook page boasts a growing number of Americans stating they don’t support Obama’s actions either.
Egyptian activist Mahmoud Salem writes that El Masry’s status as a bellydancer is actually helping her cause:
“There is a tacit social contract in Egyptian society, according to which belly dancers are untouchable. No matter what they do, no matter how outrageous their behavior is according to Islamist values, they are totally accepted by the general population. There are even old proverbs that warn against the wrath of belly dancers, advising people against antagonizing them. This is part of the schizophrenic Egyptian collective consciousness.
“Ironically, this cultural dualism makes belly dancers the perfect foil for for Egypt’s secularists against the Islamists, as illustrated by the curious case of Sama El Masry.”
Screenshot via mmado mado/YouTube