A time out

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A dancer performing at the mawlid of Sidi Abd al-Rahim al-Qinawi in Qina

As a popular festival, the mawlid is also a time when many daily restrictions are set out of order. This is why mawlids have often been associated with things that are considered immoral in Egyptian society: flirting between boys and girls, consume of alcohol and hashish, gambling, and belly-dancing. Today, this image is largely a part of the past. This picture was made at one of the few mawlids where belly-dancers can be still seen. Since the 1970's, Egypt has experienced a wave of religious moralism that has also influenced mawlids: alcohol, hashish and belly-dancing have become a rarity at most mawlids. And as for flirting, universities, work floors, and Nile promenades have provided the youths with more convenient places to do so. But although the mawlids have lost most of the libertine atmosphere they still had 50 years ago, the image still lives and people who dislike mawlids are quick to claim that they are a mere pretext for debauchery.

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Qina, October MMIII, small frame colour negative, scan from c-print
(c) Samuli Schielke