Sochi 2014: Supporters of Jackie Chamoun Strip Naked for Social Media Campaign

IB Times
Sochi 2014: Supporters of Jackie Chamoun Strip Naked for Social Media Campaign
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Sochi 2014: Supporters of Jackie Chamoun Strip Naked for Social Media Campaign

Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun has unwittingly sparked a Twitter frenzy, as legions of supporters have stripped in solidarity with the Olympian for the campaign #stripforjackie.

The Lebanese skier, who is currently competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics, became the subject of an investigation by the Lebanese Olympic Committee, after topless pictures of her posing for an Austrian ski calendar surfaced on the internet.

The pictures were taken on the slopes of Lebanon's most famous ski resort Faraya-Mzaar.

After images were leaked to the press, the country's caretaker sports minister called for an official investigation "to take the required steps to avoid harming Lebanon's reputation" and Lebanon's Olympic Committee condemned the skier's behaviour for "bringing shame on the country."

Chamoun was forced to issue a statement on Facebook apologising for "her past conduct."

The furore over the images has sparked a strong reaction around the world with people posting semi-naked images of themselves with the hashtag #stripforjackie in defiance at the government's stern action against Chamoun. 

 The 'I Am Not Naked' campaign has more than 5,000 likes on Facebook with male and female models holding up #stripforjackie signs in solidarity.

An Avaaz petition calling for the investigation into Chamoun's photos to be dropped, received over 1,500 signatures in just 24 hours.

The photographers behind the 'I Am Not Naked' campaign say on their Facebook page: "Some women are beaten or killed, others are raped, and the media shifts their attention to a confident talented beautiful woman who represents her country at the Olympic Games.

"This is about telling our 'peers' to set their priorities straight. This is to fight censorship. This is for freedom."

Tarek Mouakkad, who owns a local photography studio in Lebanon, invited Chamoun's supporters to have their naked picture taken for free.

He said that the campaign might serve as a stepping stone to promote freedom of expression in a country known for its double standards and strict censorship laws.

"A lot of people are actually doing it at home. Four, five years ago we had a lot less censorship. This case, with the Olympic champion, is the final drop that has made it explode."

It's widely known that in 1971 the Ministry of Tourism used an image of a Lebanese woman wearing a bikini in Playboy to attract tourists to the region, and the hypocrisy has for many, proved too much to stomach.   

The government's intervention in the matter has also provoked the public's ire when there are far more important issues at hand in a country plagued by political instability and growing violence in its cities.

Rhea Zachariou, 23, an unemployed teacher who supported the online campaign said: "We have more important things to worry about. What about the bombings, the abuse and murder of women, the rape."

Despite the risk to her future employment she said the experience of stripping felt liberating. "The moment you take off your bra you feel this is it, there are no inhibitions, it felt good," she said.

Chamoun is set to compete in the slalom and giant slalom skiing events next week.

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