Egypt detains photographer after dancer shoot at pyramid

Egyptian police have detained a photographer for disrespect after he shot images of a dancer in ancient costume at the Pyramid of Djoser outside Cairo, a security source has confirmed.

Rumours had circulated on social media that the model, Salma al-Shimi, had been arrested after Monday’s shoot at the Saqqara necropolis, 20 miles south of Cairo, but the source said police detained the photographer on Monday.

“A photographer has been arrested after a private shoot with dancer Salma al-Shimi in the archaeological zone,” the source said, adding that his case had been referred to the courts.

Late last week, Shimi, who has thousands of followers on Instagram, posted photographs from the shoot of her in ancient Egyptian dress at the foot of the 4,700-year-old Step Pyramid of Djoser.

Rumours spread that she had been detained for wearing outfits that betrayed Egypt’s ancient heritage and broke the rules set by the antiquities ministry for photo shoots.

Social media users who had seen the photographs expressed disbelief and outrage. “Is there really a ban on taking photographs in archaeological zones, even pictures that are not indecent but completely normal?” one user asked.

On Monday, the pictures were removed from the model’s Instagram account.

In recent months, Egyptian courts have jailed a dozen social media influencers for sharing content judges deemed offensive.

In December 2018, images of a naked couple embracing at the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops prompted a media outcry. The authorities arrested a camel owner and a young female guide for helping the couple to gain access to the site.