Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Rest of the Story

Foolish act of bravery? Egyptian activist risks her life after posting full frontal nude shot online sparking outrage among Muslims.

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 nude 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.

On her arabic blog, Aliaa defends her actions, writing: "Put on trial the artists' models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then undress and stand before a mirror and burn your bodies that you despise to forever rid yourselves of your sexual hangups before you direct your humiliation and chauvinism and dare to try to deny me my freedom of expression."

The posting prompted furious discussions on internet social media sites, with pages for and against her put up on Facebook.

One activist, Ahmed Awadallah, praised her in a Tweet, writing, "I'm totally taken back by her bravery."

A supporter, who identified himself as Emad Nasr Zikri, wrote in a comment on Elmahdy's blog, "We need to learn how to separate between nudity and sex."

He said that before fundamentalist influence in Egypt, "there were nude models in art school for students to draw". Some 100 people liked his comment. (

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

Hanane Zemali: "I undress against machismo"

Sepideh Jamil


red dirt girl said...

Bravo goatman. I think many in our own country need to learn the difference between nudity and sex!


red dirt girl said...

Actually, I want to amend my original assertion about nudity and sex and go a step further: why does sex make us feel so uncomfortable that we would call a nude photograph 'pornographic'?


goatman said...