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Egyptian model Salma El-Shimy was arrested on Nov. 30 after she held a photoshoot in Saqqara, an archaeological site in the city of Giza. Saqqara has been in the news a lot recently, with archaeologists recently uncovering at least 100 sealed coffins with mummified bodies inside.
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In Egypt, anyone who wants to take photos or videos at an archeological site for commercial purposes must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Not only did El-Shimy and her photographer, Hossam Muhammed, not have a permit to have the photoshoot, but the ministry called El-Shimy’s outfit — a strapless, tight white dress with a beaded belt and neckpiece — “inappropriate.”
Muhammed claimed that he and El-Shimy spoke to the site’s staff, who were nearby, and came to an “agreement” that the duo could take pictures near the Pyramid of Djoser for 15 minutes. The pyramid was built sometime in the 27th century B.C.
CBS News reported that El-Shimy referred to her photoshoot looks as Queen “Malban-titi” (a reference to Malban, a type of Turkish delight), and Queen Nefertiti.
A lawyer accused El-Shimy of “the distortion of civilization and insulting the great Pharaonic history.”
In Egypt’s justice system, anyone can file a lawsuit against anyone else, but it’s up to a public prosecutor to decide whether the claim is valid before formal charges are made. As of writing, El-Shimy and Muhammed are only facing formal charges of photography without a permit, and the two are out after paying bail.
Despite her arrest and the publicity around the charges, El-Shimy still shared “sneak peeks” of the photoshoot on Instagram.
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