Aliaa Magda Elmahdy apparently thought she was striking a blow for sexual equality and free expression in Egypt when she posted nude photographs of herself on a blog. Instead Ms. Elmahdy set off a wave of outrage here, stoking conservative Islamist sentiments that many liberals fear will undermine their prospects in the country’s parliamentary election next week.
It is hard to overstate the shock at an Egyptian woman’s posting nude photographs of herself on the Internet in a conservative religious country where a vast majority of Muslim women are veiled and even men seldom bare their knees in public. In Egypt, even kissing in public is taboo.
It is often the case that activists willing to defy social conventions, pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable anywhere, succeed in provoking discussion — while finding themselves ostracized and isolated. Indeed, Ms. Elmahdy learned that reality quickly after a Twitter post directed attention to her blog, and her pictures.