Egyptian activist posts nude photo of self on blog – sparks uproar

Added by on November 19, 2011

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy in a photo on her blog

Egyptian activist Aliaa Magda Elmahdy sparked a global uproar after posting naked photos of herself on her blog earlier this week saying in an interview on Saturday that she posted the photos, “because I am not shy of being a woman in a society where women are nothing but sex objects harassed on a daily basis by men who know nothing about sex or the importance of a woman”.

Elmahdy, a 20-year old former student of the American University of Cairo, faces criticism at home in Egypt where nudity is strongly frowned upon, even as a form of art, and where it could lead to her being jailed.

The blog post prompted discussions, both for and against Elmahdy. A comment on her blog said before fundamentalist influence in Egypt “there were nude models in art school for students to draw”; another comment said, “I’m totally taken aback by her bravery”.

The posting is in contrast to a country where most Muslim women wear the headscarf, and even those that don’t wear a headscarf rarely wear clothes that reveal their arms or legs.

In an interview with CNN’s Mohamed Fadel Fahmy on Saturday, Elmahdy said, “I took the photo myself using a timer on my camera”.

In the black and white photo, Elmahdy stands, wearing only stockings, high heeled shoes, and a bow in her hair; her shoes and the bow are colored red. When asked why she took the photo in that way, Elmahdy answers, “The photo is an expression of my being and I see the human body as the best artistic representation of that…the powerful colors black and red inspire me.”

Asked how her parents reacted, Elmahdy said, “They want to support me and get closer, especially after the photo was released, but they accuse Kareem [her boyfriend] of manipulating me. He has been my support system and has passed along their text messages to me. I dropped out of AUC [American University in Cairo] months back after [my parents] attempted to control my life by threatening not to pay the fees.”

In closing Elmahdy says, “I have discovered who my real friends are, and I have Kareem who loves me passionately . . . I am a believer of every word I say and I am willing to live in danger under the many threats I receive in order to obtain the real freedom all Egyptian are fighting and dying for daily.”