Aliaa Magda Elmahdy said it’s her body to bare.
“I have the right to live freely in any place,” Elmahdy wrote on her blog. “I feel happy and self satisfied when I feel that I’m really free,” she said.
Under the heading “fan a’ry,” which means nude art, Elmahdy posted several pictures of herself in the buff, including one with strategically placed yellow rectangles.
“The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality,” wrote Elmahdy, who turns 20 on Wednesday.
On her Facebook page, Elmahdy wrote that she was “echoing screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
A media arts student at the American University in Cairo, Elmahdy took the pictures at her parent’s place. Her blog also has a photo of a seated naked man holding a guitar.
While placing provocative pictures on the Web rarely raise eyebrows in the West, in an increasingly conservative Egypt what Elmahdy did is an unprecedented act of defiance.
Egyptian women have long enjoyed relatively more personal freedom than their female counterparts in other parts of the Arab world, but a worrying result of the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak has been the rise of the Islamic Brotherhood and other religious parties.
Western clothing, once common for middle class women, has given way increasingly to head scarves and more modest attire.
And art students like Elmhady can no longer draw nude models because they’ve been banned.
Egyptian Blogger Poses Nude to Protest Islamic Extremism
... An Egyptian blogger posed naked in a series of pictures published on Twitter under her real name sparking mixed reactions among her followers. Some praised her move, while others left outraged comments.
Liberal, Feminist, Vegetarian, Individualist Egyptian". In a tweet, she said "I took my nude photo myself in my parent's home months before I met @Kareemamer [her boyfriend] and I'm atheist since I was 16".
According to Italian news agency Ansa, more than 100,000 people clicked on her blog to see the pictures. Elmahdy posted eight naked pictures on her blog under the title "fan a'ry'" (naked art). In some pictures, she appears with yellow bands covering her private parts.
She explains that "the yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality."
"I am echoing screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy," she said.
"My view is that the veil is not a personal choice in Egypt, but the results of religious and social pressure," she said in Facebook. "The women with head veil that I know wear it because of their families or because they don't want to be beaten in the streets. I don't see why they always dictate to women, and not to men, what they should wear."
For this reason, Aliaa Elmahdy also supports a controversial Facebook event called "Men should wear the veil". On Twitter, many people intervened in the debate created under the hash tag #NudePhotoRevolutionary.
"A feminist #Jan25 revolutionary posted her nude photo on the internet to express her freedom. I'm totally taken back by her bravery," tweeted Ahmen Awadalla, who works in the field of human rights, health, sexuality and gender.
But some people fear that Elmahdy's pictures might affect the revolutionary image. "Egyptian liberals will now be seen as pro-nudity, and that could really damage their election campaign," said Ruwayda Mustafah, blogger for the Huffington Post and Global Voices.
Several prominent human rights groups in Egypt have turned down an invitation from the authorities to take part in discussions about the constituent assembly which will draft a new constitution. They say the government and the ruling military council must first "prove their respect for the dignity and rights of the Egyptian people".
Egypt's parliamentary elections begin Nov. 28 and will be held in stages. The new parliament is due to convene in January.