Cairo – Egyptian model Salma El-Shimi was arrested on Monday due to a photo session in the ancient Saqqara area in Giza. Al-Shami, 26, took a group of photos in an ancient Egyptian style dress. Officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities considered the outfit “inappropriate”.
The ministry confirmed in a statement that the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mustafa Waziri referred the incident to the Public Prosecution Office for investigation. It quoted Waziri as warning that “anyone who neglects antiquities or our unique Egyptian civilization will be punished.”
Sabri Farag, director of the Saqqara Archeology Site, told CBS News that two ministry employees and four security personnel working at the site were also referred to the Public Prosecution Office for an administrative investigation. Faraj denied the reports of the six arrests.
Anyone who wants to make a photo or video filming for commercial purposes in an archaeological site in Egypt must obtain a permit from the Ministry.
Al-Shimi photographer, Hussam Muhammad, 22, told a local newspaper that he and his subject had reached an “agreement” with site workers to take pictures around Djoser’s pyramid for about 15 minutes. The pyramid dates back to the 27th century BC.
Muhammad was also arrested later on Monday evening.
El-Shimi referred to herself as Queen “Malban Titi” during the photo shoot, a name that combines references to the Turkish delight “Malban” and the Queen of Ancient Egypt, Nefertiti.
The images went viral and revived a heated debate about the difference between breaking social norms and breaking the law.
A lawyer filed a lawsuit accusing Al-Shimi of “distorting civilization and insulting the great Pharaonic history.” A member of the Egyptian House of Representatives called on Al-Shimi to face “the most severe penalties.”
Under the Egyptian justice system, any individual can file a lawsuit against anyone for any reason, but it is up to the Attorney General to decide if there is a valid case and then press formal charges.
Far from exaggeration, the Public Prosecutor ordered the release of al-Shimi and her photographer on Tuesday evening, on bail of 500 pounds each (about $ 32), pending full investigation. They face official charges of filming without a permit, according to local news outlets, but there are no charges related to obscenity or anything else stemming from the allegations of wrongdoing.
Muhammad told the local press that he was surprised by the big reaction, insisting that he had done nothing wrong and that he was just trying to make a living. He said he was paid 1,000 pounds (about $ 65) for the filming, and if he knew it would turn into such a scandal, he would have turned the job down.
He also said he believes that if the model in question had a different body type, none of this would happen.
Despite outrage from some angles, other Egyptians rallied to defend Al-Shimi’s right to wear whatever you want and criticized the Ministry of Tourism’s actions, indicating that the Public Prosecution will only lead to bad publicity for Egypt.
Just two weeks ago it was Saqqara In the news For the historical archaeological discovery of about 100 sealed coffins containing mummified bodies.