Pyramids, Pharaohs and Prophets have been a significant part of the cultural discourse and heritage of Egypt since ancient ages and any kind of indecent or disrespectful behavior with the natural ruins won't be excused. The same happened with a fashion model and her photographer, who were detained by the local police, this week, for doing a photoshoot in an ancient costume at the Pyramid of Djoser outside Cairo.

According to rumors circulating on social media, the Egyptian fashion model, Salma al-Shimi, was also arrested soon after the shoot at the Saqqara necropolis, 20 miles south of Cairo. But the police initially detained Houssam Mohammad, the photographer, late on Monday.

The three large pyramids of Menkaure (L), Khafre (C) and Khufu loom over the horizon November 13, 2004 at Giza, just outside Cairo, Egypt.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

"A photographer has been arrested after a private shoot with dancer Salma al-Shimi in the archaeological zone," a security source told The Guardian, adding that his case had been referred to the courts.

The gaffe

the Great Pyramid of Giza, Pyramid, mystery,
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt.Pixabay

Late last week, Shimi, who boasts 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.

Very soon, 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 photoshoots.

Archeologists and activists were angered by the shoot, slamming it to be offensive and disrespectful to Egypt's heritage. Photography of the ancient ruins is banned in many cases, and careful research and planning are required for anyone hoping to snap the awe-inspiring scenes.

The snaps which show the model standing in front of the Saqqara pyramid wearing a tight, white pharonic outfit and glittering accessories, have since been removed from al-Shimi's Instagram. However, netizens have stood against the arrest of the model and the photographer. 

Pyramid photoshoot
Pyramid photoshoot
Pyramid photoshoot
Pyramid photoshoot
Pyramid photoshoot
Pyramid photoshoot

But the Tourism Police at the Ministry of Interior and Antiques have formed a team of six members to investigate who allowed the photoshoot to take place at the heritage site. The designated UNESCO World Heritage site was an active burial ground for more than 3,000 years.

Jaw-dropping incidents

Egypt Mummy

Recently, Egyptian courts have reportedly jailed many social media influencers for sharing content that judges deemed offensive.

Back in January, an Instagram influencer, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, 27, had to spend five days in an Egyptian prison after illegally climbing a pyramid and posting a photo showing the Giza necropolis in the background. The American-Russian YouTuber wrote in a caption that the five days he spent in jail were "the very worst" and wouldn't "wish this upon anybody".

Two years ago, in December 2018, images of a naked couple embracing at the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops prompted a huge media outcry. After the incident, Egyptian authorities arrested a camel owner and a young female guide for helping the couple to gain access to the site.

Just climbing the pyramids beyond a certain level is forbidden and the whole site is out of bounds after 5 p.m. (local time), after which it is patrolled by cops.

Egypt, a mostly Muslim country, regards the pyramids as among its most important monuments.

Under Egyptian law, people convicted of performing indecent acts in public can face up to a year in prison and a fine.