Last night I was dancing on the Pharaoh boat and was told by the staff that there was a VIP table in so to be careful.
This happens fairly often. I always reply in the same way, ‘all my audience are VIP to me’.
Then they explained, ‘no Lorna, I mean don’t go up close to them’ etc. It turns out they were the heads of Al Azhar. Not the sheiks themselves, but the men who sign the forms to allow people to be sheiks there. The ‘ministers’ of the ancient Islamic university that guides the majority of the middle east in it thinking of how to match what is said in the koran to modern day situations.
I can’t deny it, I was nervous going on stage knowing the tables directly in front of me were very likely to disapprove. Then i told myself that they still chose to come here knowing there would be a dancer, so if it didn’t put them off then i wasn’t going to allow myself to be put off either. Not an easy task when other audience members were walking over to their table and shaking hands with them and asking for their photo to be taken with them. I haven’t even seen that type of reaction from the guests on the boat when we have had famous actors and singers come to the Pharaoh before.
At first they turned their backs as much as they could. Then, gradually, they relaxed. By the end of my show they were clapping along and filming my dance and asking me to have their photo taken with me! I was so impressed by them! They understood and acted on the true message within Islam which it comes to a man’s reaction to a woman.
That control needs to happen within a man’s mind. To be able to look at a woman, and not have ‘bad’ thoughts about her takes more strength and self control than ordering her to cover herself. The Koran actually says that a man should draw a veil across his eyes. These men showed self restraint and self control. I don’t see this attitude enough. It is so sad. Even a well trained dog can be shown a bone and sit still until told it’s ok to ‘fetch’. Most men in Egypt haven’t even managed to train themselves this well when they see a bit of flesh (even just if it is a bit of arm!)
Well done those gentlemen.... I thank you.
You took responsibility for your own actions and didn’t care who saw that.
You have given me a ray of hope that even if the government becomes more ‘islamic’ then perhaps things don’t have to change for the worse in this colourful country I have adopted as my own. I hope more people can be educated to such a level and only then will there be hope for the women in Egypt!
Good to read this Lorna. I also wish for better environment for women in Egypt.
Lorna, among all your amazing blogs from Cairo and Egypt, this is THE MOST AMAZING of all!
I think it is about as huge and stunning as if you had been given the most secret of government secrets from say the US White House or Pentagon!
I wonder if these important men will get to know that they have been blogged, and whether they will take that potentially world-wide publicity of a very significant event as positively as your powerfully positive account does?!
I really really hope they approve of the publicity because presumably they were not there just for a relaxing night out! They must surely have been coming to see for themselves what they have the power in a new Egypt to make rules about. And that they happen to choose your show?! That can't be just a coincidence can it?
It sounds like your dancing and how you chose to be your usual self despite the special guests, and respected their presence like anyone else who comes to the boats and shows, was a key to much more than what they might decide and do about the rules that govern that side of life and government.
Your background explanation to what it meant for you - of the inside story of what Islam's view is of men's responsibilities in how they think about women - show's your side of genuine knowledge and respect for their culture in which you are both a member / performer as well as a guest.
So that is what Egypt and the whole world needs now in its attitude toward Islam and Islamic nations. Contrast your choice of home and culture, your interest and respect for what is a very different culture to you, with the more general prejudiced distant hate and aggression to Islam found in many Western cultures.
Not only did this unique event seem to be a bridge for your expression of respect and love for Islamic and Egyptian culture, but (just hopefully and maybe) also a bridge through these high standing Islamic men of a more open-minded interest in what you represent more broadly of Western cultures, a foreigner doing what for them is a highly dubious job in their country and city.
But doing it so that they are not only able to look, but to clap and applaud!
You may not have gone close to their table, but you may have played a wonderful key role in closing a potentially world destroying gap.
Well done Lorna. Well done!!
Fascinating story Lorna! I'm so pleased you're back to blogging more regularly, particularly during this momentous time in Egypt. I'm hungry to know how attitudes are developing, particularly in relation to our dance, and it's wonderful to have you there, experiencing and interpreting things for us and reporting back. Thank you!
Lorna, I teared up a bit reading this. Relief I think, having assumed it would be 'the usual story' about sexual harassment being socially acceptable in Egypt. Love Caroline x
I teared up reading this. Relief I think, having assumed it would be 'the usual story' about sexual harassment being socially acceptable in Egypt. Caroline x
I have to be honest, my mind was already in a a rather rigid space when I started to read your blog about Islam. You have an intelligent way of approaching your dancing. Your being imersed in that culture has given you sight into a life and religion that most of us will never fully understand. Thanks for making me think outsisde my "western" world values. Keep up the good work, and stay well.
You have some great advice on your site for women, but this post is inappropriate. For you to talk about self control in Islam and then reveal these men were watching you dance is a bit hypocritical. In Islam, one does not reveal another's sin and that is what their watching you was.
brilliant, I wish more men thought like this even in the western world. I hope men are thinking this when they watch me dance.
If the aim is to understand and respect Islamic codes of behaviour, then Anon's version of what's right is different to what you had learnt was right.
Anon says you have reported a sin. You clearly thought you were reporting a virtue.
My guess is that, as in all religions, their edicts and holy texts will be interpreted differently by different authorities in those religions. Hence splits, and hence behaviour all the way to wars and terrorism (and Christianity probably scores highest on this "sin") that is definitely not what any of our Gods of love and honour have ever said we should be doing!!!
This is one of the most joyous and heart-warming things I have read for a long time. Sarah P, Glasgow
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