Alyaa: The naked revolutionary

A film written by Patrick Vallélian and Sid Ahmed Hammouche, directed by Pierre Toury
First broadcast March 8, 2013

Alyaa Elmahdy, a 20-year-old Egyptian woman, faces death threats in her country. She had no other choice but to flee. She found refuge in Sweden.

Her crime? Posing naked on her blog to denounce the hypocrisy surrounding women’s bodies in the Arab world. The photography is neither pornography nor eroticism. But a militant act. The act of a woman who is in charge of her sexuality in a sexist world. A society that celebrates a boy’s birth but where a girl’s birth is a doom day.

Once posted, Alyaa’s nudity set off a national scandal that spread to the rest of the Arab world. From then on, her name fueled wrath and hatred. It has become taboo in Egypt. The Egyptian media described her as a “sharmuta”, a whore who deserved to die. “She was the perfect sacrificial lamb in an Egypt that sees evil everywhere” says Egyptian writer Alaa al-Aswany. The regime used Alyaa to tarnish the image of the revolutionaries, making them look like sexual maniacs who are against tradition.

For the first time, Alyaa speaks to Western journalists and lets them follow her at length. The film portrays this budding young Egyptian activist who wanted to take advantage of the political changes in her country and go even further.  Namely to the acceptance of gender equality.

In December 2012, Alyaa undressed again with two Femen activists in front of the Egyptian embassy in Stockholm to protest against the new constitution.

If Alyaa is threatened by many enemies for having brought into light the most taboo subject in the Arab-Muslim world – sex – she also has supporters by other women in Cairo, Paris, and Tel Aviv. Egyptian Nawal El Saadaoui, the spearhead of Arab feminism, Ukrainian Femens, and Israelis who also posed naked out of solidarity with the young Egyptian revolutionist.


Check-out Everyday Rebellion website for more information.


PREVIOUS BROADCASTS INCLUDE: UR (Sweden), LCP (France), SIC (Portugal), ORF (Austria), ACHT (Belgium), TVP1 (Poland), FMG, LAYEN (Turkey) AND SBS (Australia)