Egypt's nude blogger sparks fury
Published 17/11/2011 | 14:46
A woman activist who posted nude pictures of herself on her blog to protest at limits on free expression has triggered an uproar in Egypt.
Some liberals feared that the posting by 20-year-old university student Aliaa Magda Elmahdy would damage them in the eyes of deeply conservative Egyptians ahead of November 28 parliamentary elections in which they are trying to compete with fundamentalist Islamic parties.
Nudity is strongly frowned upon in Egyptian society, even as an art form. Ms Elmahdy's posting is almost unheard of in a country where most women in the Muslim majority wear the headscarf and even those who do not rarely wear clothes exposing the arms or legs in public.
Ms Elmahdy wrote on her blog that the photographs - which show her standing wearing only stockings - are "screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy".
The blog has received 1.5 million hits since she posted the photos earlier this week.
The posting comes at a time when Egypt, a nation of some 85 million people, is polarised between Islamists and liberals ahead of the elections, the first since the February downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Members of the most hardline Islamic movement, the Salafis, have warned voters that liberals will corrupt Egypt's morals.
"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.
"It is a double disaster. Because I am liberal and I believe in the right of personal freedom, I can't interfere," Mr el-Qimni said on Egyptian TV.
The April 6 movement, one of the most prominent liberal activist groups that led the 18-day uprising against Mr Mubarak, issued a statement denying claims by some on the web that Ms Elmahdy is a member of the group.