Egyptian fashion model in pyramid row ‘wanted to promote tourism’

Cairo: An Egyptian fashion model, who triggered online outrage for appearing in purportedly indecent images in a famed pyramid area, has defended her act, saying she wanted to help promote national tourism.

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The woman, identified as Salma Al Shimi, provoked an outcry after she released the images showing her clad in Pharaonic outfits and posing in front of the Step Pyramid and other monuments in Giza south of Cairo.

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She and her photographer were briefly arrested earlier this week, and interrogated for taking the photos without permission. They were later released on a bail of 500 Egyptian pounds (Dh 117) each.

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“I arranged the photo session with the aim of promoting tourism after the discovery of 52 coffins,” Al Shimi told online newspaper Al Youm Al Saba, referring to a treasure of ancient Egyptian coffins recently unearthed in the Saqqara necropolis in Giza.

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After posting the pictures on her Facebook, Al Shimi, 26, said she had been surprised by the reaction and for being the butt of an allegedly systematic campaign on social media. “I feel devastated due to the case. But I was confident that I would get a way out because I did nothing wrong. The photo session was meant for promoting tourism. I had not imagined the situation would take such a U-turn,” she added.

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Legal complaint

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Archaeological authorities condemned the photos as “inappropriate” and “out of place”, and reported the incident to public prosecution that ordered the arrest of the woman and the photographer.

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A lawyer in the self-styled “Society’s Purge”, a non-governmental group, filed a legal complaint against the fashion model, accusing her of insulting the Egyptian state and mocking the ancient Egyptian civilisation.

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Police investigations revealed that Al Shimi had entered the archaeological zone wearing a black cloak, accompanied by a private photographer. She had worn the pharaonic costume under the cloak.

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Egypt has recently upgraded different archaeological sites in a bid to rejuvenate its vital tourism industry.

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