Male bellydancer shaking off gender stereotypes

The male belly dancer shaking off stereotypes

Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Achref El Abed is defying gender roles

by pursuing the career path

which is typically more popular with women

Belly dancing has a long history in Tunisia

It's defined by skilled movements of the torso

and garments adorned with shiny ornaments

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TUNISIAN BELLY DANCER, ACHREF EL ABED, SAYING:

"I started dancing when I was very young. Like any other little boy, they would put me in the center of a party at home, wrap a cloth around my waist, and ask me to belly dance. They would tell me to dance as everyone clapped and ululated. It was like that. When I got older, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, they told me I couldn't dance like that anymore. When I asked why, they said that men are not allowed to belly dance."

Achref's decision to pursue his passion

led to estrangement from his family

and he has even received death threats

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TUNISIAN BELLY DANCER, ACHREF EL ABED, SAYING:

"Just like there are many people that hate me, there are a lot of people who love me. Many times, people would stop me and say 'you are cool, you are attractive, what you perform is heritage'. They would say 'teach me', and many other things."

"I've grown older and now I have my own beliefs, things that I love, things that I believe in. I will complete my path. I will not stop and I will not give up. I will do my job because this is my source of income."

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