A self portrait…
…but not just any self portrait stirred up a worldwide debate. The young woman wears nothing but red ballerinas, a same colored hair bow, and nylons. For us, in the western world, where we are frequently confronted with nudity, in news, television or magazine covers, this is nothing exciting.
However for the country where Aliaa lives in, it indeed is. Aliaa is an Egyptian art student claiming to be member of the protestors in Tahrir Square.
On her personal blog she writes provocatively:
„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“.
With publishing the powerful combination of images and phrases, the young woman aims to demonstrate against the suppression of women and the conservatism in her home country. Furthermore the blogger refers to her natural rights to do so.
The first time when this topic touched me, was when I read the Spiegel article “Stark, klug, verhüllt” (Der Spiegel, Issue 48, p. 92 ff). Catching my interest and afterwards doing research on the web about the “naked Egyptian girl” revealed various astonishing and controversial blogger opinions.
T. Fouad for instance explains whether Aliaa has any rights to publish nude photographs of herself or not:
- Regarding to her natural rights, yes. As a human being, she has the right to freedom and it is her choice how to interpret it
- Natural rights are equal for every human being, all over the world
- Whereas legal rights differ from one country to another because they include the specific cultures and governments
This implies, that she has on the one hand the natural rights due to her human being, on the other hand she carried out an forbidden and also taboo action due to the legal Egyptian rights.
Concluding, Fouad, a Muslim himself does not judge her movement and leaves two options how to further deal with this situation, depending on what kind of country the Egyptians want to live in:
- Either burn or stone her, as in the Middle Ages
- Or for a more advanced country: considering legislation, having in mind how much you want to give up from your freedom, when establishing new laws and regulations
The author claims that nudity does not have anything to do with freedom. Furthermore, she, being an Egyptian woman feels offended and degraded by the self portrait of Aliaa. In her opinion Aliaa does not represent the Egyptian women since it is her decision to pose nude while others choose a differenet way to oppose the current system. For Khalil it rather seems like a pornographic act and does not portray the fight for freedom.
While reading this blog, the question arouse whether the 20-year old woman actually intended to speak for the whole female Egyptian gender? A CNN Interview with Aliaa does not convey the image to me that she meant to take the parole for the whole country but rather to stand up for her opinion.
Looking at divergent opinions, it is very interesting to see how differently people react to a provocative action. Even though we live on a planet where millions of kilometers separate Egypts from Germans, we are able to overcome this distance and to communicate with each other while discussing topics that catch individual interests. What strikes me the most is, that people feel the need to communicate their thoughts and feelings and to encourage others to do so as well.
However, it is equally important to evaluate the blog posts, as it was mentioned in my foregone post. Personally I think it is a great opportunity to hear other opinions especially when they are directly from the region where the events occur. When would I have the chance to talk to an Egyptian person during the next week?
Additionally I would like to add a short video about: Nudity – The new way of protest?