Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

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Stencil graffiti depicting Elmahdy, in the form of the nude blog photo of herself. Its text also refers to the case of Samira Ibrahim.[1]

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy (Arabic: علياء ماجدة المهدى‎, IPA: [ʕælˈjæːʔ ˈmæɡdæ (ʔe)lˈmæhdi, ˈʕæljæ-]; born 16 November 1991) is an Egyptian internet activist and women's rights advocate. Elmahdy publicly challenged Egypt's social structures. She became known for publishing a nude photo on her Blogspot page,[2] which she described on Facebook as "screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy".[3] Since then she became a subject of several death threats.[4] A student of the American University of Cairo, Elmahdy describes herself as a "secular, liberal, feminist, vegetarian, individualist Egyptian" and has identified as an atheist since turning 16.[5][6] In 2013, Elmahdy sought political asylum in Sweden for fear of being jailed, after being kidnapped and receiving death threats, and escaping a rape attempt.[7]

Nude photo[edit]

External images
Elmahdy's nude photo

Elmahdy posted the nude photo on 23 October 2011 and according to her tweet, took the photo herself in the "parent's home months before" she met another activist, Kareem Amer.[8]

Earlier in 2011 Elmahdy and Amer posted mobile video footage, where they debate with managers of a public park who expelled them for public display of affection.

Reactions[edit]

Israeli women declaring solidarity with Elmahdy

Elmahdy's blog received over 2 million hits with a number of insults. Pages for both support and protest against Elmahdy's action have been opened on Facebook.[9] Fearing of becoming tainted in the eyes of Islamic conservatives, Egyptian liberals distanced themselves from Elmahdy.[9] The April 6 Youth Movement issued a statement denying claims that Elmahdy is a member of the group.[9]

A case, filed by Islamic law graduates, accused Elmahdy and Amer of "violating morals, inciting indecency and insulting Islam".[10] False rumors about her beating on the Tahrir Square and death have been spread since then.[11]

Egyptian expatriates, Western-based Arab journalists[12] and representatives of American art community[13] have expressed their support. Iranian-born activist Maryam Namazie defined Elmahdy's action as "a scream against Islamism" and "the ultimate act of rebellion".[12] According to actress Amanda Banoub, Elmahdy "displayed genuine purity and modesty without a single layer of clothing".[12] Recalling the virginity tests carried out by the military to women in Tahrir Square, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy noted that Elmahdy "is the Molotov cocktail thrown at the Mubaraks in our heads – the dictators of our mind – which insists that revolutions cannot succeed without a tidal wave of cultural changes that upend misogyny and sexual hypocrisy".[12]

About forty Israeli women gathered via Facebook to "show support in a non-violent and legitimate way for a woman who is just like us – young, ambitious, full of dreams and evidently has a developed sense of humor". The participants were photographed behind a sign saying "love without limits" and "Homage to Aliaa Elmahdi. Sisters in Israel".[14]

Subsequent activity[edit]

Continuing the photographic theme of her protest, Elmahdy has subsequently called for men to submit images of themselves wearing veils "in an attempt to create awareness over hypocritical attitudes," and requested women "who wish to remove their veils to send her photographs of their faces, to be published online."[15]

In August 2014, she released a photo of herself menstruating on the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) wearing only shoes, while another woman defecated on it. Media in the Islamic World did not publish the photo, as the ISIS flag features the Muslim declaration of faith.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://thisisnotgraffiti-cairo.blogspot.co.uk/2011_11_01_archive.html
  2. ^ "مذكرات ثائرة". Aliaa Magda. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Egypt activist posts herself nude, sparks outrage". Ynetnews. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Amrutha Gayathri (21 November 2011). "Has Aliaa Magda Elmahdy's Nude Photography Hurt the Cause of Egypt's Liberals?". International Business Times. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Sarah Park (17 November 2011). "Egyptian Nude Blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy Draws Condemnation [PHOTOS]". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "New Pictures of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Nude Blogger". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Amira Asad (15 February 2013). "The Egyptian Feminist Who Was Kidnapped for Posing Nude". Vice. 
  8. ^ "Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Nude Blogger: In Pictures". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c "Egyptian feminist's blog received 2.5 million hits with her full frontal nude shot". Colombo Telegraph. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Legal action taken against Egypt "nude revolutionary" activist". Bikyamasr. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Gianluca Mezzofiore (1 December 2011). "Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Egypt's Nude Blogger, Hiding in Fear for Her Life". International Business Times. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d Gianluca Mezzofiore (18 November 2011). "Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Nude Blogger, Gains Support from Egyptian Diaspora". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Ankita Mehta (19 November 2011). "Aliaa Magda Elmahdy: American Art Community Finds ‘Beauty’ in Egyptian Activist Photo". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  14. ^ Roi Kais (20 November 2011). "Israelis strip in support of Egypt blogger". Ynetnews. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  15. ^ Gayathri, Amrutha (26 December 2011). "Egypt's Nude Revolutionary Aliaa Elmahdy Asks Women to Publish Photographs without Veils". International Business Times (United Kingdom: Ibtimes Company). Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Egypt feminist defecates on IS flag in the nude Read more: Egypt feminist defecates on IS flag in the nude". The Times of Israel. 24 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 

External links[edit]