Aliaa Magda Elmahdy Blog
November 19, 2011 by staff
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy Blog, Wearing nothing but a pair of stockings, red ribbon in her hair and a pair of flat red shoes, the black and white shot would not look out of place in a n*de photography book.
But this is no ordinary art project. It is the work of a feminist Egyptian activist who is making a bold and potentially dangerous statement.
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a 20-year old university student from Cairo, has sparked outrage in the Middle East with the controversial full-length image, posted on her blog last week.
It has since received 1.5 million hits and thousands flooded the site with insults. Some denounced Elmahdy as a ‘prostitute’ and ‘mentally sick’ or urged police to arrest her.
Elmahdy’s posting is almost unheard of in a country where nudity is strongly frowned upon – even as an art form and could lead to her being jailed.
Most women in the Muslim majority Egypt wear the headscarf and even those who don’t rarely wear clothes exposing the arms or legs in public.
On her arabic blog, Aliaa defends her actions, writing: ‘Hide all art books and smash n*ked archaeological statues.
‘Then take off your clothes and look at yourselves in the mirror, then burn your body that you so despise to get rid of your sexual complexes forever, before subjecting me to your bigoted insults or denying my freedom of expression.’
But her attempts at protesting limits on free expression may have backfired.
Rather than garner support from the Liberals hoping to win the November 28th election, they are keen to distance themselves from the blogger.
They fear she will taint them in the eyes of deeply conservative Egyptians and, ruining their chances at competing with fundamentalist Islamic parties.
Egypt, a nation of some 85 million people, is polarised between Islamists and liberals ahead of the elections, the first since the February downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Members of the most hardline Islamic movement, the Salafis, have warned voters that liberals will corrupt Egypt’s morals.
‘This hurts the entire secular current in front of those calling themselves the people of virtue,’ Sayyed el-Qimni, a prominent self-described secular figure, said referring to Islamists.
‘It’s is a double disaster. Because I am liberal and I believe in the right of personal freedom, I can’t interfere,’ El-Qimni said on Egyptian TV.
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