Marwa Elselehdar was shocked when she checked the phone and saw the flow of messages coming in, she tells BBC. She had been appointed as the person responsible for the Japanese container ship Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal and blocking it from all other ships. The blockade created major headlines in the news media around the world for several days.
Elselehdar had nothing to do with that ship. When it got stuck, she worked as first mate on the ship Aida IV, off Alexandria, many hundreds of kilometers from the “plug” in the Suez Canal.
Fake news article
According to the BBC, the rumors were based on a screenshot from a fake news article, which was apparently published by the newspaper Arab News. This article claimed that she was involved in the incident.
Arab News had admittedly recently written about Elselehdar, but it was based on her success as the country’s first female ship captain. The screenshot of the fake version of the article spread like wildfire on social media, and several fake accounts were also created, claiming that they were her on both Facebook and Twitter.
Elselehdar tells the BBC that she has no idea who is behind it or why.
– I felt that I might have been attacked since I am a successful woman in this field or because I am Egyptian, but I am not sure, she says to bbc.com.
Only 2% women at sea
– People in our society still do not accept the idea that girls can work at sea, far from the family for a long time. But when you do what you love, it is not necessary that you get everyone’s acceptance, she tells the BBC.
She feared that the fake article that spread on social media would affect her everyday work. The fake article was written in English so it was spread to several countries.
– Fight for what you love
Nevertheless, she has also received several statements of support for which she has been very grateful. Marwa Elselehdar will take her final exam in May, which will give her the captain’s degree. She hopes she can continue to be a role model for other women in the industry.
“My message to women who want to work in the maritime industry is to fight for what you love and not let anything negative hinder you,” she told the BBC.
The container ship Ever Given, which with its 400 meters is one of the largest in the world, ran aground and blocked the canal on 23 March. Only six days later was it pulled loose.
The German insurance company Allianz has estimated that the cost of blocking the canal is between NOK 50 and 90 billion per day.