A photoshoot in front of a pyramid landed a dancer and her shutterbug in hot water in Egypt.
Salma al-Shimi, who has thousands of followers on Instagram, last week posted images of herself in ancient Egyptian garb with pharaoh-like accessories near the 4,700-year-old Step Pyramid of Djoser, according to the Guardian.
“A photographer has been arrested after a private shoot with dancer Salma al-Shimi in the archaeological zone,” a security source told the outlet about the incident that rattled sensibilities at the Saqqara necropolis, 20 miles south of Cairo.
The busty model and lensman Houssam Mohammad allegedly took part in the shoot “without authorization in the Saqqara archaeological site,” the Middle East Eye reported, citing a judicial source.
They were released on bail pending the results of a probe of what local media described as “provocative and offensive” images, according to the outlet.
State news outlet Akhbar el-Youm reported that Shimi had appeared before a public prosecutor and argued that her goal had been to promote tourism rather than offend Egypt, the Middle East Eye reported.
She reportedly said she had been unaware that photography on archaeological sites without a permit was forbidden.
Mohammad told Youm7 TV before he was detained that Shimi entered the site wearing an abaya — a loose-fitting robe — as requested by staff, then changed when they arrived on location.
He claimed that six employees came to watch the 15-minute shoot at the ancient burial ground without requesting that they stop.
Mohammad also expressed surprise at the online backlash, saying that “if a thin girl was in Salma’s place, the issue would be very normal,” the outlet reported.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the Al-Watan news outlet that any person who “disrespects” antiquities and Egyptian civilization would be punished.
Not everyone was upset by the shoot.
“Is there really a ban on taking photographs in archaeological zones, even pictures that are not indecent but completely normal?” one social media user wrote, according to the Guardian.