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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

Iranian Women in Naked Protests

November 5th, 2012

When I was working on A Brief History of Nakedness, which is due out in a paperback edition in the UK & USA next month, I decided to devote a third of the book to the political dimensions of nudity. As I researched this, the fascinating fact emerged that it was women who were the driving force behind many of the uses of the naked body as a means of protest. I found examples from many cultures, but I could only find one instance of the use of naked protest that had emerged out of Islamic culture.
To protest against the Iraq war and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Syrian artist Hala Faisal wrote ‘Stop the War’ on her body in English and Arabic and stood in Washington Square Park fountain in New York city in August 2005. I managed to track her down and she kindly gave me permission to use her photograph in the book. What a courageous woman!
But times are changing and more courageous women are daring to make a stand against inhumanity and oppression, even in the Islamic world. Recently Femen, based in the Ukraine, have been receiving widespread publicity for their topless protests, and now campaigner Maryam Namazie has launched the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar 2012-2013 in support of Egyptian Aliaa Magda El Mahdy and the Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa.
She is the Spokesperson for Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in IranOne Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She works closely with Iran Solidarity, which she founded, and the International Committee against Stoning. Here is a video about her project. Her blog is here. If you feel moved, do support her work!