Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, an Egyptian activist who is protesting limits on freedom of expression in the country, posted naked photographs of herself online and has incited a national uproar.
Elmahdy, who is seen in one photograph wearing only stockings, includes the caption [the photo] screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy. The blog has since received over 1.8 million hits and almost 10,000 likes.
I have the right to live freely in any place, Elmahdy wrote on her blog. I feel happy and self satisfied when I feel that I'm really free, she said.
She posted multiple other photographs of naked people, both male and female.
The 20-year-old made a bold move when she decided to bear it all online. Specifically because Egypt is a country where most females wear headscarves or, at the very least, clothing that covers their arms and legs.
But Elmahdy is very clear about her stance in Egyptian culture. On her Twitter account, her biography states: Secular Liberal Feminist Vegetarian Individualist Egyptian.
Liberals fear that Magda Elmahdy's actions will taint their party in the eyes of extremely conservative Egyptians before the Nov. 28 preliminary elections. The liberal party is challenging fundamentalist Islamic contenders.
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, according to the Huffington Post.
The nation is split between liberals and Islamists. The upcoming election will be the first since the collapse of President Hosni Mumbarak's reign, which ended in February after the Arab Spring uprising.
The Salafis, of the Islamist party, have warned citizens of Egypt that liberals will corrupt the country's morals, according to the Huffington Post.
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 Wednesday night on Egypt's popular political talk show, 90 Minutes.
Thousands of individuals from around the globe have taken to social networking sites to applaud and commend Elmahdy. One Twitter user simply wrote, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy is awesome.
Activist Ahmed Awadallah tweeted: I'm totally taken back by her bravery.
She exercised her freedom. It is her body and she can do whatever she likes with it. As for children, it is your job to make sure that they r not exposed to any thing that could disturb their normal growth. However, i doubt that shielding children from real life is such a good idea. The Qandahar Friday demonstration is a case in point, a reader posted on her blog.
I am speechless! You are GORGEOUS, INTELLIGENTE and YOU HAVE GUTS! Yet so young. Thank you so much for standing up for the rest of us. My deepest Respect and Love! another wrote.
Nude in Egypt? You are the bravest woman or, perhaps, the craziest, praised another.
However, some commentators criticized her decision, voicing their disapproval on Elmahdy's blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
On her blog individuals made comments like prostitute and mentally sick under her photos.
Whatever her message was/is it was gone unnoticed.even if it was a simple expression of freedom, the message didnt get because sadly, people payed [sic] attenion [sic] to her body and not the message, I think the message would have been more effective if a bunch of men did it 'cause no one will be talking about their bodies. Still I support her choice to do whatever she likes with her body 'cause its her body after all, @EgyptianLiberal posted.
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy is one of many Middle Easterners who have utilized social networking as a political action tool.
Elmahdy's freedom of expression is a parallel to other recent social upheavals, such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement.