Officials in Marrakech are shaking their heads at the idea of Israeli women shaking their hips in Morocco.
Several weeks before the third annual International Belly Dance Festival is set to open in Marrakech, bringing with it a swarm of beads, hip scarves and gyrating abdomens, several Moroccans are refusing to participate after learning that Israeli dancers will attend and shimmy with the rest of them.
Israelis Simona Guzman and Asi Haskal have added their names to the official list of participants. According to the Al Arabiya news network, both women will be at the festival to train participating dancers as well as show their stuff in the event’s official dances. But on Facebook and across the blogosphere, Moroccans are crying foul, calling the presence of Israelis in Morocco an atrocity and accusing the festival’s organizers of ignoring the wishes of the Moroccan public.
Sabras aside, the Marrakech festival is also taking the brunt of another sort of criticism: accusations of immodesty and indecency. Right-wing and conservative Muslim members of Moroccan society have called on the festival’s organizers to pull photos of belly-dancing women from the festival’s website, and in some cases are even demanding the festival be shut down completely.