Egypt’s first female ship’s captain has been blamed for obstructing the Suez Canal, despite the fact that she is 370 kilometers away.
Egypt’s first female captain has been charged with obstructing the Suez Canal – despite the fact that she was on a separate boat hundreds of kilometers away.
Egypt’s first female captain was accused of blocking the Suez Canal by trolls – despite the fact that she was on a separate boat hundreds of kilometers away.
Marwa Elselehdar was working in Alexandria as a first mate in command of the Aida IV when the Ever Given became wedged in the canal, effectively shutting down the main shipping route.
However, internet speculation and fabricated news headlines spread the myth that she was responsible for the container ship running aground in Suez.
Rumours about her involvement with the Ever Given were sparked in large part by screenshots of a fake news headline – purportedly reported by Arab News – claiming she was involved in the Suez incident.
The doctored picture appears to be taken from a genuine Arab News article published on 22 March, in which Marwa discusses her performance as Egypt’s first female ship captain. The image has been shared hundreds of times on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Numerous Twitter accounts associated with her have also spread false claims about her involvement with the Ever Given.
“I felt as if I was being targeted, maybe because I am a popular female in this sector or because I am Egyptian, but I’m not sure,” the 29-year-old explained.
“Because this fake article was written in English, it quickly spread to other countries.”
“The article got a lot of negative and harsh comments, but there were also a lot of positive comments from ordinary citizens and people I work with.”
“I chose to reflect on the outpouring of encouragement and affection I’m receiving, and my indignation transformed into gratitude.”
She continued, “It’s also worth noting that I became much more popular than I was previously.”
Marwa says she has always had a passion for the sea and was encouraged to enter the merchant navy when her brother enrolled at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transportation (AASTMT).
While the academy was solely for men at the time, she applied and was admitted after a legal examination by Egypt’s then-President Hosni Mubarak.
Ms Elselehdar claims she encountered sexism at every turn during her studies.
“Onboard, they were all older men of differing mentalities, making it impossible to interact with like-minded individuals.
It was difficult to face this alone and resolve it without jeopardizing my mental health.”
“People in our society still do not embrace the concept of girls working in the sea away from their families for an extended period of time,” she continued, “but when you do what you love, you do not need to seek approval from everyone.”