Egypt Pulse

Egyptian street dancers face fines, jail time over 'Kiki challenge'

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Article Summary
Egypt's religious and law enforcement authorities have demanded Egyptians stop participating in an internet trend that has people dancing alongside moving cars.

In a rare moment of unity, Egypt’s legal and religious officials have taken a common stance against the viral "In My Feelings Challenge," most commonly known as the “Kiki Challenge” in Egypt, that involves jumping out of a moving car and dancing to Canadian artist Drake’s song alongside the moving vehicle.

Earlier this week, Egyptian officials warned “Kiki Challenge” dancers that if caught, they will face jail time and fines. In statements to Ten TV, Maj. Gen. Magdy el-Shahid, the former head of the General Directorate of Traffic, said, “According to Article 81 of the traffic law, any person who … prevents the use of a part of the road … or impedes the traffic flow or endangers lives faces a jail term of up to one year or pays a fine between 1,000 and 3,000 Egyptian pounds [$56 to $168].” He added that the trend had already caused accidents on Egyptian roads, which already have some of the highest accident rates in the region.

There were 11,098 road accidents in Egypt in 2017 and 14,710 incidents in 2016, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics last May.

The trend was sparked by American Instagrammer Shiggy, who posted a video of himself dancing to the song with the hashtag #DoTheShiggyChallenge. The video has been viewed more than 6 million times since it appeared on Instagram June 30.

Dozens of Egyptians, including actors, singers and even football players, have taken the challenge, sometimes replacing Drake’s tune with Egyptian songs.

Participant Ahmed Ibrahim said that Egyptian officials are taking a fun thing for people all over the world too seriously. “Can't the Egyptian government let the Egyptian people have fun?” Ibrahim told Al-Monitor. “Things over here are really messed up and people are trying to escape the hard economic times by having a little fun. Can't they even do that?”

In the United Arab Emirates, three prominent social media activists have been arrested for taking part. According to a statement by the public prosecutor’s office, the defendants are accused of “endangering their lives and the lives of others and violating public morals, using social networking sites to promote practices that are incompatible with the values and traditions of society,” reported Agence France-Presse.

Al-Azhar scholars have also condemned the trend, saying that it is immoral and violates religious rules and the country’s values. Al-Azhar researcher Ahmed el-Malki said that the dance “diminishes man’s honor” and called on the state to draft a law that protects its values and civilization.

Malki also said that in Islam, a woman can dance for her husband but must not dance on the streets for everyone. “Regarding the dancing of men, it is something that diminishes manhood,” he told the local press.

Another Al-Azhar scholar, Sheikh Saeed Noaman, told Ten TV the dance challenge is the “work of the devil.”

However, not everyone believes that the dance trend ranks high among the country’s security priorities. Security researcher Amr Ammar told Al-Monitor that security forces should focus on drug dealers, harassers, thieves and law breakers instead of jailing and fining people who only want to enjoy themselves. He said, “People who take the challenge are doing it in remote, empty or desert areas and not on the main streets, something that does not constitute a threat to security or cause any accidents.”

Egyptians have made funny posts and shared pictures on social media networks, relating the challenge to Egyptian life. One user posted a photo of a man trying to catch a bus in Cairo and tagged it as the Kiki challenge.

“The government is taking advantage of any new phenomenon and [exploiting it] to occupy the public with trivial things and get away with the tough measures it is taking, like price hikes,” said Mai Salama, a social media activist who has not yet taken the Kiki challenge but plans to do so. “The authorities also seek to generate revenue by imposing fines. I think that's what this is all about,” she told Al-Monitor.

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Menna A. Farouk, a journalist and an editor at The Egyptian Gazette, writes about social, political and cultural issues, including press freedom, immigration and religious reforms among other topics. On Twitter: @MennaFarouk91

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