Gilded Serpent presents...

Packin’ Up and Moving!

Moroccan Dance Fest Relocated Under Pressure

Report assembled by Lynette
posted April 22, 2012

2 days ago a Gilded Serpent advisor sent me an Al Arabiya news link regarding the Mediterranean Delight Festival I attended last year in Marrakech as a guest of the producer Simona Guzman.

The following is an excerpt of the Al Arabiya article– (beware of the noisy video ad that starts in the right column):

Morocco dance festival goes belly up over fears for Israelis

A belly dance festival which was to have been held in the southern Moroccan city of Marrakech was cancelled Friday over fears for its Israeli dancers, the organizer said.

“I cancelled it because I didn’t receive any authorization and I was afraid for the safety of my participants,” festival producer Simona Guzman told AFP.

Islamist members of parliament and pro-Palestinian associations had criticized the invitation to the Israelis for the May 10 festival.

Criticism over the Israeli presence was first heard last year when the festival was also held in Marrakech, but the event went off without mishap. Some 18 countries, including Britain, Japan, Russia and the Netherlands, were due to have taken part in the festival which was first held in Istanbul in 2010.”

I wrote to several dancers who also attended last year, all of whom confirmed that the festival has been moved. Simona responded also and sent me the below letter that she sent to all the participants. She is moving her festival in time and place due to the threats she has received from certain Islamic factions because of the involvement of Israeli dancers. It was to be held in just a couple of weeks from now in Marrakech. Now it will be held a month later in June at a new spot she found near Athens Greece.

In addition to the above, her festival website was hacked by a claimed Palestinian group, and threats were left on her Facebook page (See screenshots below and the VIDEO!).

Site hacked

linked to full screen version

FB page threats
FB page threats

El Arabia:
Some also objected to the festival altogether on the grounds that it violates the values of a conservative society like Morocco and encourages the “propagation of vice,” as they put it. 
The pictures of belly dancers on the website, they added, offers insight into the “indecency” the event is bound to promote.

Simona also states about her experience with the media- “They went against participating of Israelis teachers. They said that we do competitions to attract the Moroccan dancers and we attract them with prizes like participating in Las Vegas, “the city of corruption and prostitutes”. They didn’t even check their facts and wrote that Turkey didn’t let me to organize my festival there.”

 

Simona’s letter to participants

My Dear Friend,
Due to the rise of the Islamist regime in the past year in Morocco, lately the "Mediterranean Delight Festival" is slandered and criticized against belly dancing in general and the festival itself. A lot of tasteless things were said against the festival, mostly because of ignorance. Some describes belly dance as a "pornography" and argue that the goal of the festival is to corrupt the Moroccan youth and that the goal of the festival’s competitions is to seduce the innocent Moroccan girls by offering them international winning prizes. All of the Arabic media in the Arabic world is reporting constantly against the festival and reports that many massive protest will take place during the event’s dates.

While the pressure increased, we were asked by the Moroccan authorities to ask for an authorization to produce the festival in Moroccan Territory, a thing that was never asked before. We were suppose to receive an immediate confirmation, but the Moroccan bureaucracy has its own time, and time is running short. Furthermore, security authorities asked us to cancel the event for the safety of the participants.

With deep sorrow and with no choice, after many months of hard work and great financial resources that I put in this event, I decided to keep moving forward without letting down the participants: I found a piece of heaven in Loutraky, Greece, in the 5 star Hotel and Casino Resort "Club Hotel Loutraki" on the Mediterranean shore, half an hour drive from Athens. The selected dates are June 7th-11th, 2012 in order to give you, the participants enough time to prepare properly with the traveling errands.

Producing the festival in the new location will force me to put more resources in it. I’ve decided, with the help of my loving and supporting family, and in spite of the fanatic Moroccan Islamists movements, to continue and strengthen the awareness for the art of belly dance and not surrender to the extremists.

My dear friends! I know that the changes is causing you all a great sorrow and maybe additional expenses, but despite of all, I would love if all of you will make a small effort and join us for the festival in Club Hotel Loutraki, Greece. I, Simona, as the festival organizer, put a lot of financial and mental efforts because of this change. Even though the prices of the hotel in Greece are higher than in Morocco, all of you who already registered to the event will not need to add any extra payment.

I personally ask each and every one of you to fight this hideous and ugly phenomenon that tries to show the art of belly dancing as low, cheap and pornographic. A fight against racist who turns the art of belly dance to dirty and cheap. Our victory will be by increasing the number of participants. There is no doubt that "Club Hotel Loutraki" and the Greek people will receive and embrace us and our art with open arms. Please make a small effort because I did a huge one!

I would like to thank all of the festival teachers that expressed their disgust from the Moroccan racism and received an immediate decision without any doubts to join us in Loutraki, Greece.

With friendship, love and a big hug,
Simona Guzman

"Here is a Moroccan preacher on Youtube who went against us: Watch at minute 2:10 & 3:10"

 

The festival has been moved from
Marrakech, May 10-16, 2012

to
Club Hotel Loutraki near Athens Greece June 7-11, 2012
For more information on this festival-
http://www.bellydancefestival.net/

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