Israeli Women Get Naked To Support Egyptian Blogger

In a naked display of solidarity, 40 Israeli women recently took off their clothes to support an embattled young Egyptian woman who is under fire for posting a nude photograph of herself online.

The Egyptian woman, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20, posted the picture and allowed it to be put on Twitter in order to protest sexism and the oppression of women in Egypt. She told CNN that she did it because:

Elmahdy’s controversial action quickly made her the target of death threats and unrelenting hostility and made her internationally famous. In Egypt, conservatives and Islamists demonized her, and the left disowned her, stating emphatically that she has no connection to the liberation movement responsible for the overthrowing of Mubarak. Lawsuits have been filed against her and there has been political pressure for the government to prosecute her criminally as well.

The Egyptian controversy caught the attention of a 28-year-old Israeli woman, Or Tepler, who created a Facebook event supporting Elmahdy and gathered 40 Israeli women to pose nude behind a banner reading ‘Homage to Aliaa El Mahdi. Sisters in Israel’ in English. The banner also displayed the message ‘Love without Borders’, in Arabic and Hebrew.

Tepler told Ynet that she wanted to reach out to Elmahdy because:

Judging from the comments on Israeli and international newspapers and blogs that have covered Tepler’s statement, the decision of the Israeli women to pose nude (albeit discreetly hidden behind their banner) is as controversial as Elmahdy’s original photograph.

These events highlight the question as to whether displaying the female body provocatively an effective retort to religious fundamentalists who would shroud all women in public.

Doing so is certainly a natural reaction — fight against those who would hide women and their sexuality by putting it on display. But such tactics around opposition from those who say such women are only proving the fundamentalist’s point: that all women who don’t cover their bodies are by definition promiscuous or prostitutes. And there is certainly a school of feminism that clearly believes that such actions play into the hands of men who would exploit such images of women and use them to degrade them, and that women are best fighting for their rights and dignity with their clothes on.

This articulate post on the Arab Studies Institute blog Jadaliyya argues why Elmahdy’s photograph is indeed an important political statement at this delicate juncture in Egyptian politics, and should be respected as such:

The argument over how and when women’s bodies should be seen, and whether a woman like Elmahdy is brave or immoral, appears to easily cross religious and national boundaries, even in the contentious Middle East.

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Israeli Women Get Naked To Support Egyptian Blogger

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