I wrote this last year while I was still in Cairo. I did not want to publish it at the time, for obvious reasons. A slightly different version of it was published on worldofdancers.com.
It had been a while since my last run-in with the authorities. Three or four years. I was starting to feel invincible. Many foreign dancers had recently spent nights in police departments, and one had been deported. Yet here I was dancing all over town, completely unmolested by the notorious (and quite useless) belly dance police. AKA mosanafaat, and shortat il-adaab, which translates as morals/principles/behavior police. Their job is to crash weddings and turn up unexpectedly at night clubs to fine and arrest belly dancers for infractions such as dancing without a license. Or, in the case of a 'licensed foreigner' such as myself, for dancing at any venue other than the one she’s contracted with. They can also arrest us for inappropriate costuming, i.e. a two-piece bedla without shorts or a stomach covering (shabaka). Basically, they are government funded party poopers, authorized by the ‘democratic’ Arab Republic of Egypt to stop us mid-performance and take us to the nearest police precinct, if need be.
I’m convinced the only reason such a thing exists is so the government can employ more bureaucrats. And why not? It’s a win-win situation. The government makes money from fines and jail terms, and the bureaucrats get a monthly salary in addition to the bribes they collect from managers seeking to keep dancers out of jail. Additionally, they get to fool themselves into believing they are good Muslims even though they allow belly dancing, cuz shabaka.