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Egypt's 'Naked Blogger' Calls On Men To Wear Hijab

Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy previously caused a stir by posting a nude picture of herself online.
Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy previously caused a stir by posting a nude picture of herself online.
By Kristin Deasy
An Egyptian blogger who sparked controversy last week by posting a photo of herself naked online has also launched a campaign calling on men to don the Islamic headscarf.

However, the Facebook campaign, launched by Aliaa Elmahdy in support of women's rights, was shut down after it was hit by thousands of complaints last week. Elmahdy plans to relaunch it within days.

Elmahdy sent shockwaves through Egypt's highly traditional society when one of her friends shared a photo of her wearing nothing but a pair of shoes and stockings on Twitter with the hashtag #nudephotorevolutionary.

Elmahdy's boyfriend, Kareem Amer, says his girlfriend's reasons for originally posting the photo on her blog were not political. He said she wanted "to send a message" to conservative Egyptian society that a woman's body should not be associated with "shame."

Her reasons for launching the Facebook project, "Wearing Hijab in Solidarity with Women," which kicked off on November 1, are similar. She says she started the project because "many people deny that the hijab discriminates between women and men."

A statement posted on the group's Arabic-language Facebook page before the page was removed said that "Those who call on women to wear hijab should not attack men if they chose to wear the hijab" and calls on men to upload their photos.

Such a move is almost guaranteed to stigmatize them in Egyptian society, which remains highly traditional. Violations against women are also hugely underreported in the country -- a report by Egypt's National Council for Women from 2003 found as many as 98 percent of rape and sexual assault cases are not reported to authorities.

Echoes Of The Uprising

As demonstrations enter their sixth day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the tone of the hijab campaign echoes that of the famous video blog posted by 26-year-old Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz in the days leading up to the overthrow of the country's long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.

"Anyone who consider themselves men, come with us," Mahfouz said in the video. "Whoever says women shouldn't take part in protests because they could get beaten, humiliated, harassed, show me your honor and come with us on January 25."

The video is now seen as a turning point for the Egyptian uprising, with Mahfouz awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize for her role in the movement.

The new initiative is similar to a 2009 Iranian campaign in support of student activist Majid Tavakoli.The new initiative is similar to a 2009 Iranian campaign in support of student activist Majid Tavakoli.
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The new initiative is similar to a 2009 Iranian campaign in support of student activist Majid Tavakoli.
The new initiative is similar to a 2009 Iranian campaign in support of student activist Majid Tavakoli.
Even though protest activity is on the rise again in Egypt, it's unlikely that the male protesters hitting the streets will be sporting headscarves. The lone male Egyptian citizen to have responded to Elmahdy's initiative is Magdy Abdelraheem, but he doesn't live in Egypt.

"I like the idea that men should be supporting women in putting this thing on their heads," says the 27-year-old trader, whose home is in the United Arab Emirates but who frequently visits Egypt. "I posted my picture there, but I don't think many Middle Eastern men would dare to do such a thing, because they'll all be ashamed to act like women, or be like women."

Codified Gender Discrimination

Apparently, several hundred Iranian men had no such qualms. In 2009, Iranian men posted photos of themselves wearing hijab as part of the online "We are all Majid" campaign launched in support of leading student protester Majid Tavakoli, who was jailed in the mass protests that broke out after the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.

The "We are all Majid" initiative also served to raise awareness about women's rights in Iran, where discrimination is written into the country's legal code. For example, if a woman is killed, the "blood money," or compensation paid to her family, is 50 percent less than if the deceased is a man.

Many of the "We are all Majid" photos were featured on Egypt's "Wearing Hijab in Solidarity with Women" page before it was taken down, presumably in an effort to drum up support.

Iranian women's rights leader Mehrangiz Kar, speaking on the sidelines of an "Inside Iran" conference in Berlin on November 12, says she's not surprised to see such similar initiatives arise independently in two predominantly Muslim countries.

"This is a kind of struggle and a kind of showing their unhappiness," she says. "You know, there is a logic: if we have to wear veil and hijab, my brother should do that, and the others."

Restive Younger Women

Iran and Egypt do not share a common language and have a troubled political history. But they do share a large, restive young generation of women frustrated with the societal status quo.

It's just one example of a swath of new campaigns being launched in a region with shared problems and similar aspirations. Both the Iranian-led educational campaign "Can You Solve This?" and Egypt's "Let Me Think" project, for example, are new educational campaigns focused on strengthening civil society.

For her part, Elmahdy says she's not surprised by the failure of her own initiative, telling RFE/RL that Egyptian men are "afraid of things" and fear public "reaction."

Mohamed Abdelfattah disagrees. "I don't think that's how I would like to show my support for women," he says. "Both of us respect our differences, but that's not something I would do ... I think that it's a funny tactic, it's not serious stuff."

Abdelfattah, a journalist, helped expose the killing of Khaled Said, which became a rallying cry for the Egyptian opposition.

"You know, we can mobilize for women's rights in a more serious manner that can achieve real things on the ground," he says, "not just some superficial type of tactics that would make the already conservative population [of Egypt more] alienated ... to the idea of women's rights."
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sey from: World
November 24, 2011 16:38
Excuse me, but person who publishes photos of him/her naked in the internet is nothing but a whore. Period.

So you will get women to be free by getting rid of your decency, your self-respect as a woman, your own value as a human other than just the "piece of meat" your very society imposes on you?

Excuse me, but we don't live in a "restive young generation of women frustrated with the societal status quo", we live in a restive young generation of aspiring whores and their pimps.
In Response

by: Ahmed from: Usa
November 24, 2011 17:53
Agree 100%
In Response

by: Nicholas Tufaro from: USA
November 25, 2011 02:01
May God help her to cure her illness. She has proved nothing but height of shamelessness. There are so many civil and humanitarian ways to express yourself. Taking off your clothes just plain wrong and prove nothing but a terrible state of mind.
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by: Demetrius Minneapolis from: My House
November 24, 2011 21:22
Just curious, but what is your epithet for males shown naked on the internet? An entrepreneur?
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by: John from: London
November 24, 2011 23:22
You couldn't have said it any better haha
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by: Slave of God from: USA
November 25, 2011 00:07
Some people confuse prostitution with women's rights.
In Response

by: Ivan Jakenoff from: Hightstown
November 26, 2011 01:26
Your profound ignorance is quite profound but what can you expect from you hadjis.
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by: Erynn
November 25, 2011 03:22
Excuse me, but a whore is someone who sells sex for money. A naked photo is NOT sex; so either you don't understand what the word 'whore' means, or you have a funny idea about how one can get pregnant through a photo.

Excuse me, but since when was a body soemthing to be ashamed of? How is it self-respect to be afraid to show one's body? How can one value something one is afraid of others seeing?

Excuse me, but since when was a pimp involved in a not even remotely sexual picture?

Excuse me, but I think your idea of sex is screwy. Pun intended.
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by: Run from: USA
November 25, 2011 14:23
Erynn,
rofl, prostitute sells herself for money, whore is doing it for fun.
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by: EM from: Canada
December 02, 2011 20:09
@Erynn agree 150% @Run get help
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by: Shawn from: Israel
November 25, 2011 04:55
No, she is not at all a whore. That is an absurd and ridiculous accusation.

I support this women completely. Islamic societies need to be woken from their slumber. Drastic measures need to be taken.

There is no such thing as an Arab Spring. Democracy is not spreading in the Islamic world. What we are really seeing is unhealthy societies imploding before our eyes. Muslims have no one but themselves to blame.
In Response

by: Aaron from: Alabama
November 26, 2011 02:42
He's been raised with Islam, so his definitions of very basic words have been distorted by an entire childhood of being told to be ashamed of his body and feel the need to treat women like a commodity. What do you expect from him Shawn?
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by: James from: London
November 29, 2011 14:46
Funny coming from someone who lives in Israel with a sizable conservative Jewish community, if you were to venture out to one of them, they mimick Saudi Arabic. You make it sound like Jewish communities are liberalised throughout and there is no grain of conservatism. Go to North London, or certain parts of New York to see how Jews dress and live.

Hypocrite.
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by: Shawn from: Israel
November 29, 2011 16:23
James, thank you for the travel tips but sadly I have liked in New York and have been to North London several times.

When I was there among those "conservative" Jews, who you somehow think are a problem, I never felt unsafe or threatened. No one is stoned there or put in prison for what they say or do. That is not the case in Egypt.

I will go out on a limp here and say: It is perfectly fine to ridicule Saudi Arabia. The stone gays and women and chop of hands. The charge people with sorcery and don't let Jews into their country. I think that those things are bad. You might like that that stuff and find it worth of defense. I do not.
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by: Ahmadov from: Azerbaijan
November 25, 2011 06:14
An excellent reply to all those who promote bad manners and disrespect to women misusing decent people's anger at agressive norms and traditions against women...
Women's freedom does not necessarily mean they posing themselves naked...
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by: Glenn from: New Hampshire
November 25, 2011 14:21
Of course a woman's freedom means exactly that, you ignorant boor. If she's "free" that means she owns her body and can do what she pleases with it, or don't you understand the nature of freedom? I don't approve of what she did, if my daughter did it, I would disapprove, but you see, that doesn't make it illegal or something that the state or you have the right to stop.Perhaps you'd be better off attending to freedom in your own society?
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by: Zhahn from: Doe
November 25, 2011 14:00
I am sure they said the same about Michaelangelo and his art.
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by: Glenn from: New Hampshire
November 25, 2011 14:24
Idiot.
Whore = Someone who engages in prostitution.
Naked picture = Naked picture. How can the two be the same? You have to have a really distorted of view of women to make such a statement. I personally find it distasteful and uselessly provocative but it doesn't make her a whore, it makes her stupid and probably self-absorbed.
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by: Aaron from: Alabama
November 26, 2011 02:37
What are you talking about Sey? Just because someone takes off their clothes does not mean they're a whore. There are plenty of men who can look at a naked woman without considering her as a piece of meat. The fact that you say that about a woman taking her clothes off tells the world that that's all you consider your woman to be. You simply say to the world that your dim view of sex, the human body, and expression tells me the rest of the world that you are nothing more than a sexist pig who thinks his women should feel shame for expressing themselves. Congrationlations Sey: you are the reason the rest of the world laughs at Muslims.
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by: Seidkazi from: Ma Wara An-Nahr
November 27, 2011 11:24
Sey, agree 100%.

And mind you, promoting whoring and societal degeneration in general is the REAL agenda of all those feminists, secularists, left-wing liberals, libertarian yuppies and artists who claim that they represent society and 'the youth' but represent nothing and no-one but themselves. The ultimate agenda of their European backers in a new colonisation.
In Response

by: Jade from: London, UK
November 29, 2011 18:15
For hundreds of years tribal people have wandered either totally naked or with simply a loin cloth and they have no issue with it whatsoever. People who see the naked body as shameful and whore-like; it is their problem, not the person who is naked.
I find the idea of covering women so that they do not "tempt" men RIDICULOUS! It is the man's issue that THEY need to sort out, not the women.

by: Tiger from: AU
November 24, 2011 20:23
by posting her nude pic and let public see it, she alreay sell her pride, no better than a whore
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by: Katrina Davies from: Doha
November 25, 2011 14:47
Grow up you nasty man. Where do you get off making that kind of statement. Obviously the whole issue of this article is completely lost on your imbecilic tiny brain. She is going o the extreme to opose the sanctions made on women by the hairy backed barbaric moslim men who use the excuse that women are @tempting' men into raping then whereas the real issue is the you morons need to keep your dirty dicks in your pants and leave the women alone.

by: Jack from: US
November 25, 2011 15:38
I find US is so close to backward Muslim societies in a matter of sex culture. Americans are probably most depraved in a matter of sex, on par with Muslims. Which is why this country is full of sex offenders. Any time Americans and Muslims see woman nude, they scream "whore". US is obviously world away from civilized countries like Denmark or Germany. That girl did not thing wrong with posting her nude pic. It is neither wrong nor remarkable.
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by: Nazrul from: USA
November 26, 2011 06:51
Sex is a natural thing. you can not blame someone if he gets excited by seeing a naked picture. It is his right to be got excited.We should not cry only for women rights, we should uphold human rights as a whole!

by: Ivan Jakenoff from: Hightstown
November 26, 2011 01:17
so the solution you hadjis have is to start lobbing stones or bombs. your ishamic lifestyle sounds so enlightening and joyful. i am sure the Navy Seals will be hosting more breakfasts for your countrymen...
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by: Humor me
November 26, 2011 22:17
Acido? Al Capone? Bling bling? Mary Jane? Speed? Snow white? Which one of those are you using? )))))))))))))))
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by: Ivan Jakenoff from: Hightstown
November 27, 2011 14:54
What are you? A haji? That's it - your illogical flawed mind is misfiring defective neurons. unfortunately there is no cure for stupidity or ignorance.
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by: Ukchill from: england
November 28, 2011 17:15
calling Muslims "hadjis" and you have the cheek to call others ignorant!?
You are nothing but a keyboard cowboy (just like the many idiotic keyboard jihadis on the net). You are a racist ignoramus, no more no less
In Response

by: Don't Tread On Me from: David
November 28, 2011 18:43
WTF? Ruffle your demeanor? You just don't get it. Your merry ole England is going down the tubes along with the rest of the world and you are sitting with your head up your arse. Liberalism has no boundaries. Let be politically correct and knuckle under to iSham. You are worse than a haji, a$$$hole.

by: nope from: USA
November 26, 2011 15:54
I am sorry but a women getting naked does not help the cause for women's rights. In fact I think all it does it hurt it. Women are already judged on how they dress and what they wear. I don't care how many of you American men disagree with me. It does not matter if a women had 10 degrees and is the CEO of microsoft, if she is dressed "slutty", that is the only thing you will be thinking of. Even here in America women are discriminated against daily, and we wear whatever we want. Why do women still make less money than men in the exact same field? I even read this study the other day skinny women in the same field make more money than overweight women in the exact same field. When has a mans weight ever affected his pay scale?
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 28, 2011 02:23
Agree, gender discrimination runs deep worldwide.

I bet a lot of people read this article and are now more aware of the situation in Egypt and the middle east because of the word naked in the title. Do you think that feminism in the USA would have gotten as much press if they burnt their aprons instead of their bras ?

I think a man's weight affects his pay scale where it is justifiable, such as in modeling, boxing, UFC ...

by: Gina from: san francisco
November 30, 2011 02:00
she is my hero, a freedom fighter, a revolutionary, a peace maker, a women's rights inspiration, she is so awesome. Any criticism of her voice is only a reflection of narrow, minute and brain washed thinking, that prevents the freedom of expression of human beings that explore boundaries. If its true she was found and killed, she dies a martyr in my book and should be remembered forever, as an example of what is wrong with Islam, that its better to kill a person who is a free thinker, than allow and tolerate diversity of perception and opinion. I can't change the minds of the Islamist nor can they change mine, but I believe in respect and diversity and to live and let live.........

by: Kenchenita from: Philippines
November 30, 2011 03:00
I am so fortunate that I was not born in a muslim country. Women in the muslim countries are so unfortunate. What Aliaa Magda Elmahdy did is really brave and I admire her for that. She is the hope of her people, she is awake while much of her countrymen are in slumber, buried deep in ignorance.

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