LONDON: Anti-feminist trolls are using social media to spread fake news targeting Marwa Elselehdar, Egypt’s first female sea captain, claiming that she piloted the Suez canal-jammed ship Ever Given.
The trolls falsified an Arab News article on Elselehdar by changing the headline of a profile on the sea captain from “Marwa Elselehdar: Egypt’s first female sea captain is riding waves of success” to “Cargo ship crashes into Suez canal. First female Lloyd Arab captain involved in incident.”
Apart from the glaring grammatical mistakes in the fake headline — enough for many to see that it is false — the wording also suggests that Elselehdar works for Hapag-Lloyd, which in reality is a competitor of Ever Given’s operator Evergreen.
Elselehdar also took to social media and published a video explaining the incident. She thanked Arab News for the profile, which detailed her work in charge of the Aida IV during the opening ceremony of the expanded Suez Canal in 2015.
“Frankly, when I read the news, I was upset, because I worked really hard to reach the position I have reached, and anyone who works in this field knows how much effort a person has made over the years to reach this rank,” Elselehdar said.
“One has to spend many years at sea, studying and taking exams before reaching this level.
I graduated in 2013 and got an MBA, then I was promoted from second officer to first officer, and now I am a captain,” she added.
“So, it is difficult to see that someone is trying to cancel all this effort and credit it to himself, or accuse me of being a failure or that I neglect my work.”
Anti-feminist trolls jumped on the opportunity to launch a smear campaign against Elselehdar, and promoted a baseless “this is what happens when you let a woman captain a ship” argument.
Several fake accounts claiming to be the sea captain were created on Twitter as part of the smear campaign targeting Elselehdar.
“Believe me that I am not trying to promote myself, but it is not nice for someone to speak in your name in a way that has nothing to do with your personality, your upbringing, your career or anything else,” she said.
“It’s my reputation, and I definitely don’t want it damaged like this.”