Aliaa continued her protest against the oppression that she, and millions of women in the state experience on a daily basis. The twenty-year old blogger called for women to remove the hijab for freedom, and to send her two photographs to post on her blog, one veiled and one unveiled.
Enter the pious, the moral, and the self-righteous.
Aliaa has been threatened several times with rape and death for her self-expression, challenging Egypt’s oppressive conventions. But, as Rime Naquib points in the Egyptian Independent “what some described as the ‘pornographic’ nature of Aliaa’s photo is not what was most shocking about it [to Egyptians].”
Most of us probably imagined that the USA — internet savvy, modern, open about sex and nudity, and with 300 million citizens — would probably come top in terms of the number of web searches for “sex.” Guess what? Naquib points out “According to the latest ‘Google trends’ statistics, Egypt[with only 80 million people] ranks fourth worldwide in the highest web search requests for the word ‘sex.’ “ After Pakistan, Viet Nam, and India.
“Obviously,” says Naquib, ”it is not Aliaa’s nudity — accessible only by willfully requesting her website and acknowledging Google’s warning message —that threatened the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism. It is Aliaa’s deliberate identity revelation, her willingness to endure the consequences of breaking the rules, and her lack of shame vis-à-vis her naked body that disturbed many. It is her espousal of the most abstracted symbol of freedom: ‘I undress. I am not afraid of you. I am not ashamed of my body.’ After all, if you do not appreciate this act as being a challenge to double standards in social norms and practices, you can just pretend you did not see it.”
Naquib is 100 percent correct that Egypt — number four in the world’s web search chart for “sex” — is shocked and disturbed by “Aliaa’s deliberate identity revelation.” Or, to put it another way, what bothers fundamentalists everywhere is that Aliaa appears to be a person, with ideas, thoughts, beliefs and feelings of her own, not merely an object that can be told what to do.