A 20-year-old Egyptian activist who uploaded nude photos of herself online to protest the country’s limits on free speech is causing furor.
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy’s photos netted 1.5 million views on her blog since she posted them earlier this week, saying the pictures are “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy,” the Associated Press reported.
A Blogspot profile claiming to be Elhady includes three blogs, with one titled “A Rebel’s Diary,” where the nude photos are posted. A Twitter profile claiming to be Elhady described herself as a “Secular Liberal Feminist Vegetarian Individualist Egyptian.”
Nudity in Egypt, even in art, is strongly frowned upon in Egypt, according to the AP report. Elmahdy’s photos have been a subject of discussion in the Twittersphere.
“Until every woman has the right to do as she wishes with her own body there is no democracy, not here & not in egypt ,” one user wrote. Another user tweeted “Truly do feel sorry for her. She's barely 20 & misguided. This will shadow her forever.”
Roughly 72 million Egyptians, or 90 percent of the population, are Muslim, according to the US State Department. Sharia law, the religious code for Muslims, can require women to fully or partially cover their bodies in a number of countries.
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In Egypt, as many as 90 percent of women wear the hijab, a head covering worn in public by Muslim women, and the reasons they are worn can range from religious to making a fashion statement, according The New York Times.
The hijab has had a long and contentious history in Egypt stretching back to the late 1800s and is a major topic of discussion in the country today.
Egypt’s educational institutions have become a hub for political debate over the hijab. A number of universities in Egypt have attempted to ban female students from wearing any form of head covering in the past decade. The debate has also recently spilled into the government.
When one of Egypt’s longest serving ministers called the hijab backwards in 2010,130 Parliament members told him to resign.