Egyptian actress Rania Youssef attended the Cairo International Film Festival, which took place on November 20-29, 2018, wearing a mesh dress that exposed her shoulders and her legs. Charges are being pressed against Youssef for "inciting debauchery" because of her dress, and she has apologized for wearing it. On a December 3 show on ON TV (Egypt), TV host Wael Elebrashy said that while her dress was revolting, "excessively ugly," and "may deserve to be spat at," Rania Youssef's apology should be the end of the matter. He said that it was an individual stupid mistake, and that there is debate to be had about art and expressions of personal freedom, but that Youssef "received her punishment through social media" and there is no need to take her to court. Youssef's trial is set for January 12, 2019, and she could face up to five years in prison if she is found guilty.
Following are excerpts:
Wael Elebrashy: I always say that [art] is the soft power that we must protect, and that we must do everything to prevent people from harming. But unfortunately, you see some people hunting for an incident – like the spectacle of the weird, strange, and very disgusting dress of Rania Youssef – and they start saying that this is what art is about. No! Rania Youssef and her dress are not what art is about. This is a stupid individual behavior by her and a wrong choice she made, for which she has at least apologized in a statement she published. She apologized clearly for her mistake. In any case, this was a stupid and mistaken individual behavior, not art.
If she thought this dress was provocative – no, it was revolting. If she thought it would draw attention – no, it was excessively ugly. If some thought that her dress would cause people to drool – no, it evoked disgust and might have even deserved to be spat at. But it was an individual behavior and should be seen as such, it's not art. This dress must not be used to disparage art and artists. Some people claim that this dress is an expression of personal freedom. Well, this still needs to be debated. What are the limits of personal freedom? A lot can be said about this.
I think that [her apology] should be the end of the matter. Some people want to take it to the courts… Enough already. She received her punishment on social media.