Breaking cultural Taboos at Egypt’s First Tattoo Convention


I had the privilege of spending around three weeks in Cairo last December working on the editorial desk and helping to plan television output for the day. It was the first time I was bound to a desk-job and I absolutely loved it, but I made a promise to myself to spend my weekends wisely figuring out places and people to photograph.

During my time there, tattoo artists in Egypt decided to meet and host the first Egyptian tattoo convention. In a country where tattoos are still quite taboo, surprisingly the parlors are quite loosely regulated. Tatoo artists have been operating since before the revolution, but now took the opportunity to bring the art form out into the open.

Many Muslims consider tattoos to be forbidden under Islamic law. Coptic Christians meanwhile, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, have long had an association with the art.

Around 100 people turned out for the event, less than what the organizers had hoped for, although many saw it as a small step to raising awareness about the art form in a largely conservative society.