“Alyaa, a well-to-do girl in her thirties, rebels against her family and decides to run away on her wedding day, leaving behind her entire family in a shock, only a few minutes before they seal the knot. She later rents an apartment downtown, where she learns to confront life on her own. This is the story presented in the new Egyptian television drama titled ‘Leh Laa?! ‘ – ‘Why Not?!’ has been considered one of the most controversial plots in the history of drama in Egypt, and has recently been meeting with a lot of criticism on social media.

Over the past few weeks, social media platform Facebook has been filled with Egyptian girls criticizing and, at times even, condemning how the character was portrayed in the series as an example of the independent Egyptian woman in the 21st century.

Social Media Gears up Against the Series

In her own words, Dr. Gehad Hamdy, an Egyptian dentist, criticized how her bad luck had led her to watch the series. She attacked Aliaa’s character and her choices while referring to them as catastrophic choices that would most probably leave a bad influence over those who are still watching the series.

Dr. Gehad eventually called for a full reconsideration into what the TV is presenting to their audience and how the Egyptian drama is treating women’s rights on screen.

Jehad Araby, a senior post-producer, has criticized the context used in the series to depict the word “independent” as the lead character decides to move from her family villa and rent a moderate apartment in downtown Cairo.

Throughout her Facebook post, Jehad is constantly referring to more real-life examples who could have better depict the independent Egyptian girl, such as, those leaving their homes in upper Egypt and distant governates to study and continue their education in the city, concluding that such depiction of real stories could have a more positive influence on young Egyptian females.

Last but not least, are the words described by Dr.Dina Khattab. An Egyptian Pharmacist who started like everyone else by criticizing the entire 15 episodes of the series and referring to the series’ lack of proper content.

She then goes on sharing and supporting an appraisal by Hana Monir, a Pharmacy student at Ain Shams University, where they both criticize a scene where Aliaa has shared a vacation with her male friend in the desert.

Such fierce appraisal of the scene has sparked a particular outrage calling for girls to be more vigilant around guys and not to trust them, advising girls never to go away with any guy alone.

This, however, comes in time as the judicial system in the country is being condemned for its soft response and handling of rape cases, following a particular case that has been taking social media by storm recently.

An Insight into the Plot

According to The Middle East interview with the lead actress Amina Khalil who plays Aliaa in the series, Amina denied any criticism while referring to them as weak comments. She explained that the plot and story are a mere representation of factual incidents that were extracted from real life in Egypt, she also stressed that the character is not under any circumstances inciting young Egyptian girls to leave their homes

Amina went on to clarify the message behind the work. She said it has always been to address the choice of adapting the independent life as an “independent woman” and not discussing women or young girls who relocate to another city for educational purposes. While pointing out that in Egypt women and young girls often move from their family home to live with their husbands, she said, “we live in a society who does not accept the idea of a woman or a young girl living on her own, which is not the case in western countries, where young girls often move away to start their new life away from their families.”

The Egyptian drama has been attempting to explore unprecedented grounds and aspects since last year, with the production of “Sabaa Gar” or “the seventh neighbor” which had been meeting with similar criticism upon its release on social media due to its controversial approach to some female roles in the series.

For an observer’s eye, one has to wonder why such depiction would be faced with much criticism from the same number of women who advocate for independence. Or has the media and drama in Egypt greatly failed in building a proper context for what constitutes the real concept behind “independent woman in Egypt,” and thereby, widening the gap between the media, Egyptian women, and a patriarchal society.

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