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With a Grain of Salt: Hail Talibanland.

CAIRO: It isn't true that oriental dancing, which we have known for a long time, dates back to the Pharaonic times when murals depicted oriental dancers wearing the same costumes they wear today. It is also untrue that this dancing is a genuine art form ingrained in us and expressing the innate qualities of this nation.

It is untrue that it is a folkloric art that has been passed down from generation to generation; from ancient murals to Zouba, Bamba Kashar, Hekmat Fahmy, Taheya Karyokka, Samya Gamal and Nagwa Fouad. It is untrue that the world has come to appreciate this art, which we have exported to the whole world and for which many oriental dance schools have been opened in various parts of the world.

It is untrue that dancing, like any other profession, can be taken to the highest levels of professionalism -- like what Farida Fahmy did in the 1960s -- or as a mere opportunity to make a fast buck -- like what someAa dancers in night clubs may do.

Thus, I completely support those who ask for a ban on oriental dancing in Egypt and those who disapprove the establishment of schools dedicated to teaching it. This, they claim, would ward off the evils of oriental dancing, especially that -- according to them -- only harlots take it as a profession.

We believe warding off evil is preferred to achieving commonweal. If there is someone bringing down the profession of oriental dance, then let's ban it altogether. And since we are the only country in the world that took a decision to cull pigs to prevent swine flu, then we should likewise accept those people's demands to ban oriental dancing to ward off its evils.

It's true that the decision of our wise government to wipe out the Egyptian breed of pigs was ridiculed by the world at large because it won't prevent transfer of the virus through humans. But we should hold on to our self-confidence and disregard what the world is saying about our unique genius which they can not easily grasp.Aa

I take this opportunity to ask for preventing, banning and shutting down every thing that may bring about evil. For example, in some schools teachers beat students, corrupt their minds, and blackmail them to take private lessons. Applying the same rule, it is better to close down schools to ward off these evils. Movie theaters and night clubs too. Why shouldn't we ban music as well? Without music, dancing will disappear.

Hadith has conveyed the Prophet's appreciation of singing, music and all the beautiful arts. When he entered Medina, Muslims welcomed him with music and singing. But we do not live in the Prophet's time; rather we live in the Taliban era, who, in Afghanistan, have banned music, closed down girls' schools and demolished some of the world's wondrous antiquities, which they considered to be pagan symbols of atheism. Taliban only saw profligacy and impudence in music and corruption in girls' schools. Then, why don't we follow them?AaAa

I welcome the Taliban open-mindedness that has infiltrated our life to the extent that the rule of "warding off evil is preferred to achieving commonweal" has dominated our mentality and not only among the followers of Talibani ideology but within state agencies as well. As the followers of this trend asked for banning dancing to ward off evils, the government has culled pigs to prevent flu and the judiciary has revoked the license of a literary magazine merely for one poem it published, which was thought to be unreligious.

Hail to the Talibani community, which we are quickly approaching, so that we can tell the world: "if Taliban rule had been toppled down some years ago in Afghanistan, we are able to revive it here in Egypt; the land of civilization, culture and thought; the heart of the gracious Islam that has, with its tolerant faith and its creative vision, created one of the greatest civilization in history, which stretched from China in the East to France in the West. If this civilization hadn't been built by demolishing idols, closing down schools, banning music, singing and literary magazines, and culling pigs, then let's build it by these genius creative measures which guarantee our progress and welfare C* or do they?

Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Arab Writers' Union and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo.

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Article Type:Column
Date:May 22, 2009
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