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Wednesday
Feb122014

Naked People Come to Defense of Skier and Her Topless Photos

JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images(BEIRUT) -- Anybody who follows Lebanon on social media was met on Wednesday with a deluge of photos of naked bodies – men and women, large and skinny, hairy and…animated.

It was an odd sight for a country where news is more often dominated by a recent bombing or the efforts to put together a government.

The photos were all hashtagged ‘#stripforjackie,’ a campaign launched in support of Jackie Chamoun, a Lebanese skier competing in the Sochi Olympics who apologized on Tuesday for images that recently surfaced of her posing topless for a risqué calendar on a Lebanese ski slope.

To be clear, the photos published in the calendar released late last year did not show Chamoun topless. Rather, it was behind-the-scenes footage released a few days ago that did, which caused the uproar in Lebanon, fueled by a handful of media outlets calling them scandalous and the sports minister’s call for an investigation.

That prompted a reprimand for Chamoun on Tuesday evening from Lebanon’s Olympic Committee, which said the pictures do “not reflect the real image of the Lebanese sports.”

As the story grew, so too did the number of people shedding their clothes and posting pictures of themselves online with signs reading “#stripforjackie.”

“#StripForJackie because nudity is beautiful and shouldn’t be a taboo,” one young man captioned his photo, posing naked in a bathroom.

By Wednesday morning, a group of Chamoun’s friends in Beirut had created a Facebook page and was offering to take professional nude photos of people with a small, yellow disc reading ‘#stripforjackie’ to cover the essentials.

As much as the page was created to support Chamoun, co-creator Cynthia-Maria Aramouni said it was also to highlight the “ridiculous” nature of the uproar when Lebanon faces so many other issues.

“We are turning it into a joke and at the same time trying to raise awareness of the right [issues],” Aramouni told ABC News, noting the recent spate of bombings, violence against women and limits on freedom of speech.

“There are causes that need more attention but sadly we had to do this with naked pictures,” said Aramouni.

She, along with many others, accused the Lebanese government of being hypocritical in going after Chamoun while regularly selling Lebanon as a bastion of liberalism in the Middle East.

For the most part, the campaign has remained light-hearted. Even Lebanon’s biggest beer, Almaza, got in on it on Wednesday afternoon, posting a picture on Twitter of a bottle in the snow with no label.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio