Aliaa Elmahdy is an Egyptian feminist living in exile in Sweden. She was granted political asylum in that country after she received death threats and was kidnapped in her home country for posing nude. For her blog, she posed in only a pair of thigh-high stockings, red shoes, and a flower in her hair – and nothing else (NSFW). She called it a form of protest against the oppression of women in Egypt. This got her into a lot of trouble, bringing death threats and charges from the government. Then she was kidnapped in Alexandria but released because her captors believed she was a virgin. She sought refuge and the Swedish authorities took her in.
But she wasn’t done with protesting. She discovered Femen, the activist group that was founded in the Ukraine, and found a home for her activism. Last December, Aliaa and two other women posed nude outside the Egyptian embassy, even though it was freezing cold. She painted the words, “Sharia is not a constitution,” on her chest and belly. Getting naked to protest the mistreatment of women is not something that bothers her.
On Saturday, Aliaa and two companions from Femen stripped to the waist, wrote on their torsos and entered a mosque where services were in session. Pandemonium ensued as the men pf the mosque hurled insults and called the police. The women were handcuffed and taken, still naked from the waist up, to a waiting van. After the brouhaha was over, a reporter spoke to them. The red-haired woman (her name is not given), a spokesperson for Femen, said (I transcribed this as best I could through her lovely but thick accent):
“We want the message of women’s spring, freedom to women… to have your own individual choice to decide over your body, not to have somebody else telling you ‘We do that.’ We should not be called ‘whores’ or that we are doing something shameful, like they were calling us today in the mosque. They were calling us ‘whores from hell’ and we didn’t get fuck (sic) and that’s why we were there.”
Another Femen member, Amina, added:
“We are supposed to be free to do whatever we want if we are not hurting somebody, so people should not be offended at someone showing her body or someone saying something they don’t like.”
The three women then raised their shirts again for the camera and said this was for the “women’s spring,” and that they would continue to show their bodies which are “not a sin.”
This may seem like a bit much to some: entering a house of worship and disturbing the congregation. But this is how things change. This is how women, or, indeed, anyone, is heard. Sometimes you have to be disruptive so you are not ignored.
You can watch the report from Swedish TV here (there is an ad in Swedish first and this is NSFW). Here is the video: