by: Blaine Skrainka

November 23, 2011

Egypt’s now iconic Tahrir Square is in its fifth day of resurgent protests after the resignation of civilian leader, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. The Egyptian people remain deeply dissatisfied with the traditional power structure that has yet to fulfill their promises to implement true democratic reforms. After the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces took over authority. With just days before the scheduled free and open elections, concrete details about voting locations or ballot inclusions have yet to be made public prompting suspicions that the election will inevitably be delayed. In the last week, police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the protesters in Tahrir Square, with 38 reportedly killed and 2,000 wounded.
Women protesting in Tahrir Square

The struggle for liberty has been even more challenging for women in Egypt and the Middle East. In a region where burqas and veils are the norm, one Egpytian woman has taken to the Internet to advocate the rights of women to own their own bodies, sexuality and spirit. Aliaa Elmahdy recently posted a nude photo of herself on her blog in defiance of the gender regressive culture.

“Put on trial the artists’ models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then 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.”
Aliaa Elmahdy poses nude in defiance

In an interview with CNN, Elmahdy goes on to explain, “The (sexism) against women in Egypt is unreal, but I am not going anywhere and will battle it til the end.”  In a worrying development, nearly all the content on Elmahdy’s blog has since been removed.

In an extraordinary act of support crossing religious and national boundaries, forty women from Israel posted their own bare skin photo to promote ‘Love Without Limits’. The group was organized by twenty-eight year old Or Templar, “I felt that when a liberal, enlightened woman in Cairo cannot express herself and gets threats from her state, I should show solidarity.”  Read more about the story here.
Israeli women show solidarity with Aliaa Elmahdy


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