A coalition of graduates of Islamic Law in Egypt have denounced a 20-year-old Egyptian Muslim woman Alia el-Mahdy and her companion, Karim Amer, for publishing nude photographs of themselves on their blog. The coalition contends that the pair have ‘violated morality,’ as well as inciting ‘indecency’ besides insulting Islam, according to the Bikya Masr website.  The complaint was filed by the coalition with the attorney general’s office of the north African country and claims that Mahdy’s goal is to “broadcast her obscene ideology with nude photographs.”

The group of lawyers is demanding that the pair be chastised according to sharia – Muslim religious law. “The former Constitution and the new articles in the new Constitution say that Islamic law is the basis of legislation, we therefore request that the two bloggers be punished according to Islamic sanctions,” said Ahmed Yehia of the coalition to Bikya Masr. “It is an insult to the Revolution since these two people wish to present themselves as revolutionaries demanding sexual freedom and are giving a bad name to the Revolution,” continued Yehia. “Our duty is to fight against corruption and this is a case of corruption. We are fighting against people who are trying to corrupt society with foreign and unacceptable customs such as the sexual liberty they are demanding.”

Mahdy was the center of controversy over the November 12-13 weekend following the publication of the nude photographs of herself and Amer. Drawings of nudes are also featured on her blog. Her expression of freedom may cost the couple at least 80 lashes in public, as well as jail time or “whatever else may be deemed appropriate” said Yehia.

Mahdy identified herself in a Tweet, following widespread speculation about her identify.  Her intention in publishing the nude photos was to “call attention to a violent society, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy” wrote the young Egyptian woman.  She has described herself as a “secular, liberated, vegetarian, and individualist Egyptian.” She has participated in the past in Facebook initiatives that demanded that Muslim men wear veils, much as Muslim women do all over the world. The effort distributed photographs of Muslim men wearing veils, rather than appearing nude.

In one photograph uploaded by Mahdy, she appears fashionably-dressed in Tahrir Square.

Joseph Mayton of Biksa Masr wrote of the controversy, “Whether we agree that one’s body should be a form of protest – which so many of Egypt’s liberals disagree with – is irrelevant. The reality is that Mahdy has been able, with her body, debunk all myths of Egyptian liberalism. Her naked image, which has seen over one million hits, has shown that Egypt is not ready for free expression.”

According to Mayton, Muslim men are unable to take responsibility for their own actions, while saying that notable Muslim feminist Hibaaq Osman believes that conservative religious people all the world over, including the Middle East, are the most ‘sex-crazed.’ Concluding, Mayton wrote “At the end of the day, one may attempt to cover a woman’s body with clothes, force them into the home, but in today’s Internet world, women like Mahdy can achieve more naked than they ever can clothed and in the streets.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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