Close on the heels of a firestorm raised by the nude photographs of Egyptian Internet activist, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a Tunisian actress has stirred up a similar controversy by posing semi-nude for a local magazine.
Nadia Bostah posed for the cover of Tunivision magazine, clad in a waistcoat and jeans, while revealing her cleavage and leaving her cropped hair uncovered; all of which conspire to make the image an extremely taboo one, according to the customs and laws of the Arab world.
The controversial photo-shoot was part of a promotional campaign for her new film, Tunisian Tales, which is to be released soon.
In addition to the furore raised by the very taking of the photograph, the actress then courageously reposted the image on her Facebook page, attracting heavy criticism for indecent exposure.
My nude photo is very normal, Bostah wrote on her Facebook page, it was meant to bring publicity to my new film.
The actress also went on air for a radio interview, at a local station, where she said she saw nothing faulty about using her body for art or to express a thought Egyptian independent news site, Bikya Masr, reported.
Her claims, however, do not seem to agree with the views of her countrymen, who have flooded her Facebook page with scathing criticism.
One commentator wrote: Your hair and your bust welcome doomsday, while many other critics accused Bostah of using her body as a cheap commodity and of promoting vice among youth.
The controversy over Bostah's semi-nude photographs comes in the wake over heavy debates over and criticism of Aliaa Elmahdy, 20, an Internet activist from neighboring Egypt, who made headlines recently when she posted her nude photographs on her blog (these were subsequently reposted on social networking Web sites, including Twitter). She said the photographs were screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.
Nudity is a socially unacceptable state in the Middle-east and has been so, despite the fact the earlier Arabic and Egyptian civilizations, prior to the 7th century AD; there are also strict standards of conduct for women, aimed, supposedly, at protecting their modesty.
Finally, in a rather bizarre act, both Tunisia and Egypt allow foreign tourists to swim topless on private beaches but strictly prohibit their citizens from doing the same.