Lecturer, fired over dance video, vows to sue university

An Egyptian state-run university has sacked a lecturer, a year after she posted a video on her Facebook page of herself belly-dancing in her own home, in an alleged violation of academic traditions.

President of the Suez University, el-Sayed el-Sharqawi, said on Tuesday that the institution’s disciplinary board decided to expel Mona Prince, an English literature professor at the arts school, after an inquiry with her over "violations".

El-Sharqawi did not elaborate but said Prince will get a monthly pension or “reward” after her dismissal from the job.

Head of the disciplinary board, Osama Masoud, said that the decision was taken due to what he called Prince’s “departure” from the academic rules.

“She violated Law No 49 that regulates academic affairs, which states that the teaching staffer should observe good conduct and reputation as conditions for holding the post,” Masoud, who is also Suez University’s deputy president, added, according to Egypt’s semi-official newspaper Al Ahram.

He said that Prince has been penalised not for practising dance, but because she posted her dance on social media. “The decision to oust her was taken because the university job has its prestige. Dr Mona Prince’s conduct negatively affects the stature of the job,” Masoud added.

The sacking decision can be appealed at Egypt’s High Administrative Court.

Prince has sparked controversy in the conservative country for posting footage on her Facebook page showing her belly-dancing inside her house and photos of herself wearing a swimsuit at the beach. Belly-dance is a popular age-old tradition in Egypt. However, in recent years, the genre has been frowned upon amid a wave of Islamism in the mostly Muslim country.

In June last year, the Suez University referred Prince to an investigation over the controversial dance video. The lecturer defended her acts as personal freedom.

In reaction to her sacking, Prince vowed on Wednesday to take the university to court.

“In an unprecedented act, in Egypt, Arab countries, the whole world, the Suez University fires a university professor, not because of any legal or academic crimes, no, … Because of her pictures wearing a bikini and dance video on her Facebook page. See you in court, Suez University,” she said in an English post on her Facebook account.

The 47-year-old academic said the disciplinary board has convicted her of spreading destructive ideas and blasphemy.

Prince, a translator, a liberal activist and a writer, accused unnamed colleagues of inciting students at the university in the Suez Canal city against her.

In 2013, she was questioned by a disciplinary board at the same university for purported defamation of Islam, the religion of most Egyptians. She later received a reproach.

Earlier this year, Prince launched a bid to run for president of Egypt but failed to collect the required endorsements to vie for the top post.

Several Islamist academics have been sacked or jailed in Egypt since 2013, when the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, a senior official in the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, following mass protests against his rule.