Cairo: An Egyptian state-run university has referred a female lecturer to an inquiry after she posted a video showing her dancing in an alleged violation of academic traditions.
Mona Al Prince, a professor of English literature at the Suez University, triggered a massive online controversy in the conservative country, after she appeared in the video belly-dancing on the rooftop of her house.
Conservative commentators condemned her act as immoral while others advocated it as personal freedom.
Mona, a professor and a political activist, accused unnamed colleagues of inciting people at the university in the coastal city of Suez against her.
“I am fully convinced of the video that I posted because it is a personal matter,” Mona said.
“Dance is not a taboo,” she added on her Facebook page.
“No matter what, I will never stop laughing and dancing, and singing and writing.”
Belly-dancing has for decades been popular with Egyptians. However, in recent years, many in the mostly Muslim country, have frowned upon performances, with several clerics calling it un-Islamic.
Mona said that she learnt about the planned investigation with her from social media.
“I’ve stopped going to the university for fear of a showdown with some students who are averse to me,” she added.
President of the Suez University, Maher Mesbah, disputed the professor’s argument
“Her behaviour as shown by the video and pictures published on her Facebook is not a matter of personal freedom as she says,” Mesbah, told private newspaper Al Watan.
“She is a staff member. There is a law that regulates the conduct of the teaching staff who should be a good example for the whole society.”
The Ministry of Higher Education backed the university’s action.
“Personal freedom of teaching staff members is preserved under the constitution and law, but it does not come at the expense of academic norms and morals,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
No date has been set for the questioning. If found guilty, Mona could be temporarily suspended from job or sacked.
Some political groups have voiced support for the professor.
The leftist Bread and Freedom Party has called for solidarity with her against what it called the “campaign of incitement and distortion”.
This is not the first time Mona finds herself in trouble.
In 2013, she was referred to questioning by a disciplinary board at the same university for alleged defamation of Islam. She later got reproach in that case.
In recent years, several rights groups have expressed concerns about freedom of expression in Egypt.