The April 6 Youth Movement, a leading force behind the January 25 Revolution, has denied reports that a young Egyptian blogger who posted nude photographs of herself online is a member of the group.
The official statement comes after several days of debate in Egypt, particularly via social media forums such as Twitter, about Alia El-Mahdy’s decision to post a full nude picture of herself on her online blog.
El-Mahdy, a 20-year-old student of mass communication, came to public attention this week when photos that she had posted last month were mentioned by a user of Twitter, Ahmed Awadalla.
Awadalla, a human rights activist, tweeted: “A feminist #Jan25 revolutionary posted her nude photo on the internet to express her freedom. I'm totally taken back by her bravery!!”
Following Awadalla’s tweet, other Twitter users weighed in, using the hastag #NudePhotoRevolutionary to discuss the matter, with some supporting the blogger’s actions and some condemning her.
El-Mahdy then revealed her identity via Twitter (@aliaaelmahdy).
El-Mahdy, who describes herself as a liberal atheist feminist, posted the photo, along with others including a picture of a nude man holding a guitar, in a post on her blog “A Rebel’s Diary.”
She defended the move on Twitter as an act of freedom of expression.
Some Twitter users criticised the move as being against tradition and religion. Activist Reem Awad described it as, “a lack of modesty and not a sign of bravery.”
Some were concerned about the association of the revolution with the act of displaying nude photos, fearing a backlash from conservative Egyptian society. The connection with the April 6 Youth Movement comes at a time when the Movement is facing increasing criticism from many quarters.
The April 6 Youth Movement’s official statement on Tuesday followed reports by Al-Arabiya news that alleged El-Mahdy was a member of the movement.
“Alia El-Mahdy has never been a member in the April 6 Youth Movement. Shame on Al-Arabiya for this terrible professional mistake," said the Movement in its official statement. "Not every political activist - whether famous, renowned, unknown or whoever - is a member of the movement, as it has a specific system for registration.”
The Movement demanded both an apology from Al-Arabiya news network, and that all Egyptian media outlets provide a clarification on the matter.
Alia El-Mahdy is the girlfriend of Karim Amer, the blogger who was arrested and imprisoned in 2007 after being accused of insulting Islam and former president Mubarak on his blog. Amer became the first Egyptian blogger to face a sentence in this kind of controversial case.
Amer revealed on his Twitter account that he did not interfere in El-Mahdy’s decisions and that the photo was taken before they had met.