Egypt youth movement denies ties with girl in nude self-portrait


The Egyptian April 6 Youth Movement denied reports that a girl who posted nude pictures of herself on the internet has ties to the pro-democracy group but say that she is part of a conspiracy against them.

April 6 issued a statement, of which Al Arabiya obtained a copy, refuting allegations made by 20-year-old Aliaa al-Mahdy, who posted the nude pictures online on Tuesday, stating she is a member of the movement.

The group also denied the allegations on its page on social networking website Facebook.

“Lies have been circulating about an April 6 member called Aliaa al-Mahdy who posted her nude photos on the internet. This girl was never a member of the group.”

Mahdy claimed to be an April 6 member right after she posted the pictures, an action done to “defy restrictions on freedom,” as she put it. Her boyfriend Karim Amer also confirmed her membership of the group.

However, after the group’s statement, she denied having claimed any ties with the April 6 movement.

“I am not and never was a member of April 6 and I have never claimed such a thing,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

She also reneged on earlier statements that the picture was taken at her boyfriend’s house.

“The picture was taken at my parents’ house,” her statement read.

For members of April 6, the nude picture and the allegations that accompany them are part of a plot against the group.

“The movement does not have any members who engage in such behavior and the girl is only an agent of State Security. They want to tarnish our image after our role during the revolution and the increasing support we get from the Egyptian people,” April 6 spokesman Tarek al-Kholi told Al Arabiya.

Kholi explained that membership in the group is not easy and is not done via registration on the internet.

“There are several procedures anyone who wants to join the group has to go through like submitting a membership form followed by an interview. After that, the applicant is informed whether the request is accepted or rejected.”

The movement, Kholi added, has certain criteria in choosing members and among them is to not accept atheists nor those who adopt outrageous ideologies under the pretext of freedom.

“We are conservative youths and we always encourage our members to be role models as far as ethics are concerned.”

These ethics, he added, are even applied during protests as April 6 members have never used indecent words even against police officers and officials in the former regime.

“How can we have accepted the membership of a girl who behaves like this?”

Aliaa al-Mahdy posted her fully nude picture on her blog as well as on her Facebook page and Twitter account as part of what she called a “freedom revolution.”

The picture got an unprecedented number of views whether by angry, curious, shocked, or supporting viewers. On Facebook alone, the picture got 250,000 views.

Under the picture posted on her blog, Mahdy wrote a sentence that summarizes the purpose of her “revolution:”

“Try models who posed naked for Fine Arts students in the 1970s, hide all art books, and destroy all naked statues. Then take off your clothes and look at yourselves in the mirror and burn those bodies of yours which you despise in order to get rid of your sexual complexes forever. Do that before you hurl your discriminatory insults at me or rob me of my freedom of expression.”

Underneath her picture, Mahdy posted another picture of an Egyptian-looking nude man holding a guitar as well as several nude paintings. Then she posted her own picture again three times, each time with a part of her body hidden by a red strip, the first her mouth, the second her eyes, and the third her private parts.

Mahdy got hundreds of comments on her blog and visitors were increasing with the rate of three every two seconds.

Skimming through the comments, written by users from inside and outside Egypt, shows that Mahdy’s has far more critics than supporters. This, however, applies mainly to male users. As for female users, many of them lauded Mahdi’s “courage” and promised to follow suit “when the right time comes” as a female Syrian who lives in Germany, wrote.

On Twitter, the comments kept flooding in at a rate of four every second and a new hash tag called “Nude Photo Revolutionary” was created especially for Mahdy’s pictures. There she wrote that she posted her nude picture to defend her freedom.

Al Arabiya sent Mahdy a message on her Facebook page in order to conduct an interview with her, but she did not respond.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)