Anti-Islamist Egyptian female activist Alia al-Mahdi who stirred anger in Egypt after protesting nude against the country’s draft constitution told Al Arabiya English Friday that she wanted to “make change” but in a different way.
Alia took part Wednesday in a protest by the International women’s movement FEMEN in Stockholm “to say NO to Sharia constitution in Egypt!”
Nude pictures of Mahdi and other FEMEN activists were posted on the group’s website. Alia appeared holding the Egyptian flag with writings on her body that read: “Sharia is not constitution.”
In an phone interview with Al Arabiya English, Alia said, “I chose to protest this way because of the ideas that say that we do not own our bodies and that we are public property, as people are the ones who decided what should be done with our bodies.”
“Of course, if we want to make change, we have to do it unlike the way it is done,” she said.
Mahmoud Afifi, spokesperson for Egypt’s liberal April 6 Movement described Alia’s nude protest as “obscene,” saying in a Twitter post that she was “misleading” people by claiming to represent all those who oppose the constitution.
Egyptian singer Amr Mustapha lamented Alia’s nude protest, saying it would only help President Muhammed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group win the constitutional referendum.
Alia said she left Egypt in March 2012 “to attend an Iranian conference in Stockholm about the situation of women after the Arab Spring.”
Her family, she said, is in Egypt and is facing harassments. “The neighbors no longer talk to my family, “Alia said, and expressed fears she would be jailed if she returned to Egypt.
Inna Scevchenko, a leader FEMEN France, told Al Arabiya English that Alia was kidnapped in Egypt in 2011 after she posted nude pictures on the internet.
The claims could not be verified with the Egyptian securities.
“She was kidnaped in her country and now she is in Sweden on asylum, but constantly followed by various security services,” Scevchenko said.
“She became FEMEN activist around two weeks ago,” Scevchenko added. “She told us that she could not go back to Egypt. We were on the same line. We discussed what we can do next.”
Scevchenko said, “The topic about the Sharia and the constitution was very important in Egypt and Alia is a live symbol of democracy that needs to be respected in Egypt.”
“When the woman is taking off her clothes, it is a way of revolution. When she took off her clothes, it was not for men, it was to protest oppression,” Alia added.
Scevchenko said Alia was prevented on Dec. 15 from attending a FEMEN conference in Paris.
“I personally booked her ticket for Dec. 15 and when she arrived at the airport to check in the Lufthansa flight, she was told that her ticket was cancelled,” Scevchenko said.
“I then booked her another ticket from Scandinavian Airlines. This time she made it at least to the boarding area, where she was told she could not leave the country.”
Scevchenko could not name any parties which she said are behind “police coercion to stop her.”
“It could be European secret services,” she said.