ALIA MAGDA AL MAHDY FIGHTING FOR ARAB WOMAN’S RIGHTS IN REVOLUTIONARY EGYPT
An Egyptian blogger posts a nude photo of herself on her blog page and sets of a controversial firestorm in the Arab world which quickly spreads to the western and european media. Revolutionary act? Equality for Arab women? Freedom of speech? Vain and exhibitionistic act by young woman eager for attention?
By Mustapha Ajbaili
Anti-Islamist Egyptian female activist Alia al-Mahdi who stirred anger in Egypt after protesting nude against the country’s draft constitution told Al Arabiya English Friday that she wanted to “make change” but in a different way.
Alia took part Wednesday in a protest by the International women’s movement FEMEN in Stockholm “to say NO to Sharia constitution in Egypt!”
Nude pictures of Mahdi and other FEMEN activists were posted on the group’s website. Alia appeared holding the Egyptian flag with writings on her body that read: “Sharia is not constitution.”
In an phone interview with Al Arabiya English, Alia said, “I chose to protest this way because of the ideas that say that we do not own our bodies and that we are public property, as people are the ones who decided what should be done with our bodies.”
“Of course, if we want to make change, we have to do it unlike the way it is done,” she said.
Mahmoud Afifi, spokesperson for Egypt’s liberal April 6 Movement described Alia’s nude protest as “obscene,” saying in a Twitter post that she was “misleading” people by claiming to represent all those who oppose the constitution.
Egyptian singer Amr Mustapha lamented Alia’s nude protest, saying it would only help President Muhammed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group win the constitutional referendum.
Alia said she left Egypt in March 2012 “to attend an Iranian conference in Stockholm about the situation of women after the Arab Spring.”
Her family, she said, is in Egypt and is facing harassments. “The neighbors no longer talk to my family, “Alia said, and expressed fears she would be jailed if she returned to Egypt.
Inna Scevchenko, a leader FEMEN France, told Al Arabiya English that Alia was kidnapped in Egypt in 2011 after she posted nude pictures on the internet.
The claims could not be verified with the Egyptian securities.
“She was kidnaped in her country and now she is in Sweden on asylum, but constantly followed by various security services,” Scevchenko said.
“She became FEMEN activist around two weeks ago,” Scevchenko added. “She told us that she could not go back to Egypt. We were on the same line. We discussed what we can do next.”
Scevchenko said, “The topic about the Sharia and the constitution was very important in Egypt and Alia is a live symbol of democracy that needs to be respected in Egypt.”
“When the woman is taking off her clothes, it is a way of revolution. When she took off her clothes, it was not for men, it was to protest oppression,” Alia added.
Scevchenko said Alia was prevented on Dec. 15 from attending a FEMEN conference in Paris.
“I personally booked her ticket for Dec. 15 and when she arrived at the airport to check in the Lufthansa flight, she was told that her ticket was cancelled,” Scevchenko said.
“I then booked her another ticket from Scandinavian Airlines. This time she made it at least to the boarding area, where she was told she could not leave the country.”
Scevchenko could not name any parties which she said are behind “police coercion to stop her.”
“It could be European secret services,” she said.
Egyptian blogger Alia Al-Mahdy can easily pass as the girl next door, yet in taking a closer look, one finds she is not at all what she appears. In her words Alia describes herself as secular, liberal, feminist, vegetarian and individualist Egyptian. The day after she celebrated her 20th birthday, Loleeta, as she calls herself on her Facebook page, was charged with immorality, debauchery and defamation of Islam. Alia’s crime is posting a nude photograph of herself in her blog “Memoirs of a Revolutionary.”
Alia’s bold and unprecedented action shocked a conservative Egyptian society, who are in the midst of major political changes due to the recent uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. Her action not only raised eyebrows, but also put into question her sanity. Who would do such a bold and shocking thing in modern day Arab society? But the young revolutionary defended herself and her freedom of expression. “I have the right to live freely in any place,” She wrote on her blog. “I feel happy and self-satisfied when I feel that I’m really free.” Under the picture she wrote one word Revolution.
On Alia’s now famous Facebook page she explained that she posted this picture to defend her freedom that is being hijacked by conservatism. She wrote that she was “echoing screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
She refuses to be judged or criticized for her actions. “Try models who posed naked for Fine Arts students in the 1970s, hide all art books, and destroy all naked statues. Then take off your clothes and look at yourselves in the mirror and burn those bodies of yours which you despise in order to get rid of your sexual complexes forever. Do that before you hurl your discriminatory insults at me or rob me of my freedom of expression.” She writes.
There is a very high price for freedom, especially now with the political changes taking place in Alia’s Egypt. That said, it seems she is willing it pay it.
November 20th, 2011
The Egyptian coalition of graduates in Islamic rights have presented a denouncement against the Egyptian blogger Alia and her boyfriend, Kareem Amer who is also a blogger, for having published a nude photo of herself saying that it “violates morality”, “incites indecency” and “insults Islam”, according to Bikyamasr news.
The denouncement, presented before the Fiscal General of Egypt, accuses the activist of publishing the nude photo with the objective of “intent to spread her obscene ideology by way of nude photographs.”
The document presented by the experts of Islamic Rights has been published in their Facebook page and calls for Alia and Amer to be punished according to Islamic law.
“The old constitution and the new articles of the the new (Magna Carta) say that Islamic law is the base of legislation, and by it we call for the two bloggers to be punished by Islamic sanctions”, explained Bikyamasr Ahmed Vehia, coordinator of the collective.
“It is an insult to the revolution because these two people pretend to show themselves as revolutionaries asking for sexual liberty and they are giving a bad name to the revolution”, he said, in reference to the popular uprising that toppled the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s regime last February 11th.
“Our duty is to fight against corruption and this is a case of corruption. We are fighting against the people that are trying to corrode the socieity with strange and unacceptable customs like the sexual liberty that these two bloggers are calling for.” said Yehia.
Kareen Amer, Mahdy’s boyfriend, became famous a few years back when he was sent to prison for having insulted Islam in one of his blog entries. “The highest authority, whether it is the great Mufti or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, should be condemned for the crimes that they have committed.”, underlined Yehia.
Mahdy provoced a heated polemic last weekend when she posted on her personal blog a photograph in which she appeared completely naked to demand the rights of equality for women and denounce violence against women.
Her initiative could take her to trial and cost her a sanction of 80 lashes in public for adultery in addition she could be sentenced to death for the crime of insult to Islam. “The sentence could be a sanction of lashes, time in prison or what they feel is fit”, finished Yehia.
This woman is an attention-seeking twit, nothing brave or at all revolutionary about her. The only people who are excited about this or who support this are idiots who are brainwashed by Western ideas of “freedom”, as well as perverts who want to see the photos. Everyone knows that she would have been just as vilified if it had been a man pulling this disgusting stunt. How exactly does she speak for “women’s rights” or “freedom” by putting on an indecent display like an animal? How are the liberals hypocrites because they don’t want this sort of obscenity in their society? If anything this fool is a hypocrite by bashing conservatives while at the same time falling victim to Western objectification of the female body in the guise of “freedom”. This has NOTHING to do with her being a woman and everything to do with a violation of basic human decency.
I believe you are missing the point of why she posed nude in the first place. If you look at the islamic world, women are viewed as sexual property, and not as people; this is a undeniable fact. The point of her posing nude was to say that she is a free person. She is free to do what ever she pleases with her body because it is her’s and no one elses. This has everything to do with being a woman because of how women are treated, if you are this blind to that fact, than honestly, I’m not sure what other proof you need.
Secondly, what is so indecent about the human body after all? The human body is one of the most beautiful creations in this world. You’re looking at the human body only as a sex object. Why? Is there no more to it for you than that? If that is all you see, then you are missing a great deal of it’s beauty, the human body is much more than a simple sex object.
Lastly, I am from the West, namely America, and you know what? I find great value of what this young woman is trying to express. She is bringing to light a big problem in my opinion that is rampant. Judging by the amount of anger her simple action has generated in the Arab world it is clear that their culture is being put on the front and center and being embarrassed. They should be embarrassed, I know I would be and I would try to fix it. You can’t progress as a society until you address the problems that are in your country.
Aliya is the only one who has demanded by action that the leftists and all Egyptians focus on what they should have been thinking about and discussing all together since 11 February, 2011: freedom, what is freedom, and what kind of freedom do we want. The Tahrir square revolutionaries lived something extraordinary, but it was lost the day – 8th of March – that women rallied in Tahrir in support of womens’ rights and the role of women in the revolution and were attacked by anti rally thugs. Thereafter the left descended into absurdity: either in competition with itself as to who is more revolutionary than the other, or losing time attacking Islamists in the name of the scarecrow of the Islamic state. Given that the betrayal of the revolution started with violence against women, it is appropriate that it is a woman who reminds the Egyptian revolution of it’s ultimate goal. And with a lot of dignity.
AXEL DE JESUS GARCIA Aunque luce mui bien, de lo sublime a lo ridiculo, ni tan tan ni mui mui, el burca es realmente demasiado, y mui frustrante para todos, Dios iso la mujer bella no para que siempre se este escondiendo del todo, aunque todo tiene su lugar.
this woman and her supporters are not not freedom of expression fans but they are perverts of society. As a matter of fact most feminist movements in the world oppose sexual depiction of women as sex and pornography degrade the woman reducing her to sex object.
Alia Mahdy, Wonderfully done, you are definitely a brave woman. God bless you. God will laugh at all these religious conservatives who can not bear that someone like you stands up bravely and says “it is my choice to do what I want with my body”. You are not killing anyone, you are not not hurting anyone, just making the old “religious gang” scared because you are not blindly abiding by their rules. Alia Mahdy, I wish you all the luck in the future of this world, you will be the winner, and you win by real “knock-out-punches” which hopefully lands squarely in the private parts of the religious gang. Again, Alia Mahdy – you are a brave woman.
To all you women donning a niqab or a face veil, along with a floor-length black dress and black gloves. You say you do not want to be seen by other men (and women). Well, I do not want to see you either dressed like that, nor do millions of other men and women want to see you like that. This is why you can not be dressed in niqabs and walk around in the streets in France. The only people defending the niqabs are the islamists, tell me, am I right?
Let us hope that from Egypt pour more brave women fighting as you do, also daring to show their photos to “deconstruct the walls of Babylon”. Or are those other women already conquered and controlled by the religious thugs? What if as birthday-gifts the women get thigh high stockings and a pair of bright-red shoes instead of a niqab?!
Aliya Mahdy, you started a revolution and let us call it “The bright-red-shoe revolution”. Every photo published in the future of women with bright-red-shoes (with or with out clothes) continue fighting your revolution.
Me parece que la chica es muy valiente y que ha hecho bien, y que ha desafiado al estreñido puritanismo de la sociedad oscurantista…. Premios… quizas no le den muchos, porque oponerse a los preceptos del islam (desde dentro del islam nada menos!) no esta de moda entre la progrechurrienta camada de la correccion politica!