While he’s not the Asharq Alawsat writer I would have expected to take up the story of Aliaa Elmahdy, the Egyptian blogger who stripped off for a photograph making a political statement, Mshari Al-Zaydi does raise some interesting issues about the revolution in Egypt. His arguments pertain to other countries as well.
Rather than a nude 20-year-old, I wonder if this isn’t a situation, as in the folktale, of the Emperor having no clothes.
What is happening, I believe, is that the concepts like ‘Egyptians’ or ‘Syrians’ or whatever you have, is being broken down. Instead of a collective, there is an agglomeration of individuals, each with his or her view of how their country should be run, how society should operate, what rules and laws infringe upon their individual rights. Instead of being told how they should behave in the various facets of life, they want a voice in deciding those issues. With the weight of oppressive government gone, they feel free to make their wants and desires known and free to seek the politics that will achieve them.
It is very messy situation in Egypt, with thousands making demands that are contradictory, even diametrically opposed. It should come as no surprise that different people have different views, wants, desires, and needs.
One way to clean up the mess, of course, is to install new, repressive governments. Another way is to let people argue it out – without coercion, without violence – and find, if not a consensus, then a compromise.
As for Ms Elmahdy… well, she was certainly brave. And her point is far more consequential than the self-published nude shots that spread across cell phone networks and the Internet. She will, as Al-Zaydi points out, bear a heavy burden for her bravery, though. She may not have realized all potential consequences of her act, but she knew beforehand that there would be consequences and accepted that.
A case of nudity
An Egyptian girl, who was one of the supporters of the revolution in Tahrir Square, decided to completely strip off her clothes and post a picture on her personal internet blog, in a revolutionary act of protest against everything she disliked in Egypt, according to her own perceptions. This was in fact an act that caused shock and astonishment everywhere.
The girls is young – 20 years old – and later on she will realize the amount of harm she has done to her life, her image, as well as to her future, especially in a region such as the Arab world.
However, such reckless and crazy conduct is not the only aspect of the “indiscipline” that now prevails in Egyptian public life.
There are other cases of indiscipline, disrespect for customs and boundaries, and a tendency to confuse what is private with what is public. Every day we read and watch wondrous news coming from Egypt, as if the people there are reinventing themselves!