Egyptian model Salma El-Shimy and photographer Houssam Mohammed were arrested on November 30.
- El-Shimy and Mohammed were arrested after having a photoshoot at Saqqara, an archaeological site in Gaza.
- The Egyptian model was photographed in a white dress accessorized with ancient Egyptian motifs.
- El-Shimy and Mohammed were arrested because the outfit was seen as “inappropriate”, “offensive”, and “provocative”.
Salma El-Shimy and Houssam Mohammed’s photoshoot was deemed offensive.
The Egyptian model posed in Saqqara, an archaeological site in Gaza. Salma El-Shimy was photographed in a short white dress that was accessorized with Pharaonic motifs so as to resemble Ancient Egyptian clothing. After the photoshoot, El-Shimy posted her photographs online where she referred to herself as “Queen Malban-titi”. The name Malban-titi makes reference to Queen Nefertiti and the sweet turkish delight Malban. As many might expect, this sparked controversy and a heated debate online.
Both the model and the photographer were briefly arrested.
El-Shimy and Mohammed were detained by police and interrogated last Monday. According to CBS News, a lawyer accused El-Shimy of “the distortion of civilization and insulting the great Pharaonic history.” Furthermore, a member of Egypt’s parliament called for the model to face the “severest punishments.” Despite these claims, the pair was released on a bail of 500 Egyptian pounds and “are facing formal charges of photography without a permit”. Moreover, they are not facing any charges “related to indecency or anything else stemming from the claims of impropriety”.
El-Shimy commented on her arrest, reported Gulf News:
I feel devastated due to the case. But I was confident that I would get a way out because I did nothing wrong. The photo session was meant for promoting tourism. I had not imagined the situation would take such a U-turn.
Some Twitter users condemned El-Shimy’s photoshoot.
نحن لا نحناج إلى التعرى لإظهار جمال اثارنا أو لنجتذب سائحين هم أصلا حياتهم منفتحه وميفرقش معاهم لو قلعت لهم ملط!! السائح يبحث عن سعر وراحه وخدمات مش عن لحم رخيص pic.twitter.com/TMB3IUet3l
— مصري وافتخر (@Allaa43581633) December 1, 2020
Translation by The Middle East Eye: We do not need to be naked to show the beauty of our antiquities, or to attract tourists…Tourists are looking for comfort and services, not cheap meat.
— 𝐑𝐀𝐇𝐌𝐀🦋 (@RahmaMoh11) December 1, 2020
However, others commented on the policing of women’s bodies in Egypt.
لا اعرف باى تهمة ستحاكم الفتاة التى ارتدت زى فرعونى وتصورت امام سقارة هل يختلف فعلها عن عارضات الازياء الاجانب ؟ القانون ليس فيه ما يجرم سلوكها لكن اهل الوصاية على الناس بأى حجة للتكدير على الناس ونشر النكد هم الغاضبين pic.twitter.com/pv29KhzXto
— ahmed ezzarab (@aezzarab25) November 30, 2020
Translation by The Middle East Eye: I don’t know what the girl who dressed like the pharaohs and was photographed in front of the Saqqara will be charged for. Does her act differ from those of foreign fashion models? There is no law that criminalises her behaviour, but the people who are meant to guard the public are using any pretext to annoy people and spread malice.
The Sisi regime investigates & arrests women for posing, dancing, singing fully clothed on social media. Meanwhile,the more they undress, the more #Egyptian men are celebrated for virility, masculinity, strength. Remember police cadets on display for Sisi? https://t.co/dGvdzPaEGk pic.twitter.com/pv4o7DFHF1
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) November 30, 2020
More photographs from the photoshoot can be found on Salma El-Shimy’s Instagram.