Local authorities in Marrakech have banned a belly dance festival initiated by an Israeli dancer.
Rabat – Local authorities in Marrakech have banned a belly dance festival initiated by Israeli dancer Simona Guzman. The organizer, whose family has roots in both Turkey and Morocco, declared that the Moroccan authorities gave in to the pressure of “Islamists.”
The belly dance festival was to take place between June 3 and 10 but was canceled following the protests of people who oppose Israel along with anything remotely related to the nation.
A senior official of the region justified the ban by saying it conflicted with the last days of Ramadan and Eid El Fitr. The official said that this combination of circumstances could undermine the public order and religious sentiments of Moroccans. The official added that otherwise the festival would have been possible if it had not been scheduled during this exact period.
Guzman had reserved a large room where she planned to organize belly dance workshops and 50 more rooms for the 50 dancers who were to participate in this festival. The dancer even paid an advance of 70,000 dirhams on a sum of 250,000 dirhams billed by the management of the hotel. The hotel was later contacted by the local authorities who asked the hotel not to host this festival.
Simona Guzman tried to circumvent this ban by booking another hotel but was again hindered by authorities.
She announced that this event would not take place, saying, “I became persona non grata [or someone unwelcome] in Morocco.”
On May 14, the dancer posted a message on her Facebook page saying that the Moroccan authorities have yielded to the pressures of what she calls “Islamists.”
Guzman affirms that she will privately organize another festival in a small room at a hotel in Marrakech. This festival would feature the dancers who were due to arrive in Marrakech last Monday. The festival, she adds, is only a small event in comparison to the first.
Guzman attempted to organize a festival in a hotel in Marrakech with the participation of 17 Israeli dancers in 2011, but her attempts failed.
“This is an international festival and it is about promoting art, it is not political,” Guzman said at the time.
“In all places, there are extremist people but they do not represent all the people because the festival has received a lot of local support,” she said in a statement.