Cairo — Egyptian model Salma El-Shimy was arrested on Monday over a photo session in front of the Pyramid in Saqqara, a prominent archaeological site in the city of Giza, Egypt.
The ancient Egyptian outfit she posed in was deemed “inappropriate” by officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
The photos went viral and caused a lot of debate. Some accused El-Shimy of distorting Egypian civilization and insulting the great Pharaonic history. A member of Egypt’s parliament called for El-Shimy to face the “severest punishments.”
Both El-Shimy and her photographer on Tuesday evening were released on bail of 500LE each (about $32), pending a full investigation.
They are facing formal charges of photography without a permit.
The charges are not related to any indecency or anything else stemming from the claims of impropriety, according to some media.
State news outlet Akhbar el-Yorum reported El-Shimy argued in the court that her goal had been to promote tourism rather than offend Egypt, the Middle East Eye reported.
She also reportedly said she had been unaware that photography on archaeological sites without a permit was forbidden.
Despite the criticism and outrage from some corners, other Egyptians defend El-Shimy’s right to wear whatever she wants and criticized the tourism ministry’s actions, warning the prosecution would only bring bad publicity for Egypt.