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Egypt Religious Body Wants Belly-Dancing TV Show Axed

CAIRO -- Egypt's top religious body demanded Wednesday that a new belly-dancing TV show be suspended for "corrupting morals" and serving "extremists" who could use it as a pretext to depict Egyptian society as anti-Islamic. The call by Dar al-Ifta, the top body that advises Muslims on religious and life issues, follows others criticizing the show called "Dancer." It aired only once on the Cairo and People satellite television network. A famous belly dancer known as Dina was among a three-member panel that chose the most-talented dancers, many of whom were not Egyptians.

In an advertisement, the network said the winner would receive the title "the best belly dancer in the world." The contestants also shouted at each other and fought in the advertisement in the tradition of Western-style reality shows. Belly dancing has been famed in Middle Eastern countries for centuries, though many Egyptian conservatives now believe it is immoral. Many belly dancers say Egyptian movies — in which belly dancers are often characters who only lust after men and their money — are to blame for the negative image.

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- The Associated Press