With 99.3 percent of Egyptian women having experienced sexual abuse, the nation has long been in dire need of a #MeToo movement of its own. Last year, it happened.
Instagram page @AssaultPolice sparked a movement like no other. Spearheaded by a young student Nadeen Ashraf, the account played a major role in the case of abuser Ahmed Bassam Zaki. Women’s anonymous stories were shared by Ashraf, ultimately leading to Zaki’s arrest, and even a change in Egyptian law.
But its power went beyond that, the account sparked what’s been dubbed ‘digital feminist revolution,’ and its effects continue to be seen today.
This week, another storm hit social media. This time, accusations surrounded well known Egyptian photographer Ahmed Tarek, known on Instagram as Tarek JPEG. Posts by social media personality Jana Ghoneiim began circulating on the app earlier this week, with claims that the photographer sexually harassed 10 women.
Tarek, who has since deleted his Instagram account, first denied the claims, writing: “These allegations have been thrown out earlier this year, and it’s brought up again exactly the morning after my exhibition opening due to its huge social media buzz.”
“I confirm that these are baseless false accusations, and I’m currently consulting about the legal action to be taken in this regard.”
The photographer later made another post on Instagram that read: “I am aware of all the stories and accusations circulating since yesterday. Considering the image of the other side, I’m not going to discuss this issue in public. I’m going to contact a respected trusted female activist to show them the other true side of the story.”
Egyptian rapper Marwan Moussa, who closely worked with Tarek, also took to social media to address the situation, writing: “I recently heard the news about a photographer I have worked with closely being accused of sexual harassment. The person in question was also a friend, so hearing stories and seeing screenshots with such aggressive behavior came not only as a surprise to me but to my whole team.”
“I am shocked and disappointed by what I have seen and I by no means accept this kind of behavior, so I have decided to cancel all future collaborations with the photographer in question.”