Islam is one of the oldest and one of the greatest religions of the world. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to worship God. The Holy Qur'an states that both men and women are equal, but also, as in 4:34 that "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard." Although the Quran does say this, the superiority of men is interpreted in terms of strength by the context - men maintain women. Quran teaches us to respect women & nowhere in the Quran is it mentioned that women have to be only housewives. Though Majority Muslim countries give women varying degrees of rights with regards to marriage, divorce, civil rights, legal status, dress code, and education based on different interpretations. Yet most of the Islamic countries women’s are considered as secondary & for centuries women’s were oppressed in the name of Religion. I am writing a story about a woman named Aliaa Mahdy of Egypt who recently grabbed world attension by posting her nude photos to protest repression. We don’t know whether she is a true freedom fighter or mere an attention seeker. But the Twenty-year-old Egyptian college student Aliaa Maghda El-Mahdy has split the Arab dissident community with her new political stunt: posting nude self-portraits on her blog.
The 20-year-old Egyptian feminist and political activist has startled the nation by posting a nude self-portrait on her blog, calling her action a scream “against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
The strange protest by Aliaa Mahdy was viewed as a provocative move against the ruling military council and the rising influence of Islamist parties that are expected to win a major share of seats in the upcoming Egyptian parliamentary elections. The disturbing images test the bounds of expression in a Muslim-dominated nation that considers itself moderate but prides itself on piety.
She writes the following lines on her blog:
حاكموا الموديلز العراة الذين عملوا في كلية الفنون الجميلة حتي أوائل السبعينات و اخفوا كتب الفن و كسروا التماثيل العارية الأثرية, ثم اخلعوا ملابسكم و انظروا إلي أنفسكم في المرآة و احرقوا أجسادكم التي تحتقروها لتتخلصوا من عقدكم الجنسية إلي الأبد قبل أن توجهوا لي إهاناتكم العنصرية أو تنكروا حريتي في التعبير
Put on trial the artists' models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then undress and stand before a mirror and burn your bodies that you despise to forever rid yourselves of your sexual hangups before you direct your humiliation and chauvinism and dare to try to deny me my freedom of expression
Aliaa’s blog of photographs with the title فن عاري (Nude Art), including the one showing Mahdy facing the camera wearing only thigh-high stockings, red shoes and a red bow in her hair, reportedly has had more than 1.5 million hits since it was posted on Sunday, October 23, 2011. While winning praise in some quarters, it has also been condemned elsewhere and has raised concerns that it needlessly incites Islamists against secularism at a time of intense political turmoil.
In her interview to CNN, she mentions, Sex is an expression of respect. Read that statement again, there is a lot of wisdom. If only, we all could understand this statement and live by it. Her photograph in no way asks for attention, it is indeed artistic and well photographed. For a woman, to stand naked in front of a camera and not pout, or portray herself as inviting, speaks volumes.
Aliaa tells that Women’s status in a country like Egypt is worst, not more than sex objects. Women’s can’t express their views freely and if any woman speaks, men call them names. If a women protets, their voices are not heard; they are oppressed & put to Virgnity Tests. Virginity Tests which were conducted in Egypt on the women who protested at Tahrir Square were done by Egyptian soldiers who inserted two fingers in each woman’s vagina to confirm virginity. Now these kinds of practices in a country like Egypt are not acceptable at all. This kind of practice just portrays the level of women’s in such countries.
Aliaa’s protest brought intense criticism as well as support from different parts of the world as well as many Muslim countries.
“I bow my head in respect,” wrote Sami on Mahdy's site. “There is a little to no point in you arguing with fellow Egyptians, brainwashed since birth by a vile religion and a deep rooted hypocrisy ingrained in them. Just please be extra cautious. . .we don't want to see you stabbed by a pathetic ‘jihadi’ or hear that you had to flee Egypt to asylum. Best of luck.”
Others criticized Mahdy for jeopardizing the civil freedoms young activists called for during the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak this year. The post was unprecedented in a country where about 90% of the population is Muslim and most women wear headscarves.
Mahdy wrote on the blog, titled "memories of a revolutionary: nude art," that she was practicing her right of freedom of expression.
"These photos have nothing to do with neither art nor the revolution," wrote Twitter user AhmdAlish.
Magued Ghoraba wrote: "We are defending secularism for innuendos and then we get this #NudePhotoRevolutionary. Stop shocking people to the point of repulsion."
Mahdy's protest was the latest sign of frustration among secular activists increasingly convinced that the Egyptian revolution has stalled and left the nation far from democracy.
Weeks ago, activists posted their wills on Twitter after thugs and military police killed more than 20 demonstrators. This frustration has been heightened by the widening political voices of ultraconservative Islamists who want to expand the role of Islamic sharia law in the country's constitution.
Egypt practiced a relative liberalism during the early decades of the last century until the early 1970s, when millions turned to conservative Wahabi and Salafi Islamic beliefs in the face of political, social and economic setbacks. Nowadays it's unacceptable for many Egyptians to see a girl "dressed inappropriately" in the streets of the capital, much less posting nude self-portraits.
When Aliaa Mahdy was interviewed by CNN and she does sounded very angry & like a rebel. According to the recent study Egypt is not considered a safe place for women, 80% of the women agree to be molested in public and 60% men accept that they molest. Now those who question Aliaa Mahdy’s freedom of expression should read about Salwa el-Husseini and Samira Ibrahim, the women who have been subject to Virginity Tests, the women who feel humiliated and raped.
At the end I would just like to sum up with a sense of respect for the 20 year old female who stood strong in this male dominated country. Now we just have to see whether Aliaa Mahdy would be able to bring a revolutionary change in the mentality of Islamic population or not. Whatever be the end of it, I wish her all the very best.
Aliaa Mahdy's Blog : A Rebels Diary