Egypt's top religious body has demanded that a new belly-dancing television show be suspended for "corrupting morals" and serving "extremists" who could use it as a pretext to depict Egyptian society as anti-Islamic.
The call on Wednesday by Dar al-Ifta, the top body that advises Muslims on religious and life issues, follows others criticising the show
Dancer. But the debate is not all about it being too racy for television, but part of a concerted effort by Egypt's government to show it is challenging Islamists as a political force while still respecting the country's more conservative values.
Dancer aired only once on the Cairo and People satellite network. A famous belly dancer known as Dina was on a three-member panel that chose the most talented dancers, many of whom were not Egyptians.
In an advertisement, the network said the winner would receive the title "the best belly dancer in the world". The contestants were also depicted squabbling in the tradition of Western reality shows.
The network said it had postponed the show's second episode because the country was mourning the killing of members of the security forces in a militant attack on the Sinai peninsula.
In its statement, Dar al-Ifta said the show "serves extremists who take such matters as a justification to promote the idea that society is fighting religion".
Critics of the show are clerics who also opposed Islamist President Mohammed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, toppled last year by the military.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who led the ousting of Mursi, has portrayed himself as standing up against extremism and the political use of Islam. But Sisi has also tried to show himself as a guardian of "society's morals". Sisi's government has banned some books and films to do that.
Anti-Muslim Brotherhood cleric Muzhir Shahine and a group of professors at Al-Azhar, a Cairo university prestigious in the Muslim world, issued a statement criticising the belly-dancing show as part of "attacks on society's values", while also trying to compare it to atheism and homosexuality - which a large number of conservative Egyptians perceive as taboos.