An Egyptian female school teacher, Aya Youssef was sacked after a video of her belly-dancing with her colleagues during a cruise on a Nile river surfaced on the internet and went viral. The video sparked anger among conservatives in the country.
The native of Mansoura city, Aya Youssef was reportedly sacked from her job and was also divorced by her husband days after being fired as an Arabic teacher at a primary school in Dakahlia province.
She explained she was filmed without her consent, and the cameraman zoomed in to shed her in a bad light –
Youssef has vowed to take legal action against the publisher of the video even as she picks the pieces in her life.
Youseff explained that her reputation and all that she holds dear in life had been destroyed by the videographer, who she explains brought the camera to show her in a bad manner.
In a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Youssef told Egypt Independent: “My life was destroyed because of the video from an unscrupulous person who tried to tarnish my reputation and brought the camera close to me only to show me in a bad manner. I really made a mistake because I was happy and played with people who were not honest. People bullied and insulted me. I lost my job, my husband, my home, and my mother got sick. My family was impacted by what happened.”
The footage that was widely shared online before being pulled down showed her wearing a headscarf, a full-sleeved blouse and trousers as she danced with male colleagues.
The media has gone on to christen her “the Mansoura teacher” by media.
The video sparked controversy from various quarters, with some pointing out that the standards of education and teachers were at an all-time low.
“Teachers are supposed to be role models. This sets a bad example,” said a conservative campaigner.
Meanwhile, many women groups have come to condemn her sacking, calling it double standards since she was dancing with other men, but she was singled out by the one who recorded the video.
The head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, Dr Nihad Abu Qumsan, offered to help her file a complaint against wrongful dismissal, while a deputy director of a secondary school in Egypt shared photos of herself dancing at her daughter’s wedding.
After a wave of support in her favour, local authorities have appointed Ms Youssef as an Arabic teacher at a new school. “The decision of the Education Directorate in Daqahlia to return me to my work made me feel that part of my life began to return to its nature and that part of my dignity was recovered,” she said.
“This is very sad. I don’t understand the double standards here. It just scares me to know that simple things like human rights which is taken for granted is still scarce in some places,” someone commented on YouTube.
After a wave of support in her favour, local authorities have appointed Youssef as a teacher at a new school.
She said the new appointment has helped her feel part of life once more after a testing period in her career and life in general.
“The decision of the Education Directorate in Daqahlia to return me to my work made me I feel that part of my life began to return to its nature and that part of my dignity was recovered,” she said.
Ms Youssef who is a mother of three has no source of income after the divorce and mentioned how people also lashed at her parents for raising her wrong. She also mentioned how she was just being spontaneous and having fun in an open space where everyone else was laughing relaxing.