Egypt's first female ship's captain blamed for blocking the Suez Canal – despite being 230 miles away

EGYPT’s first female captain was blamed by trolls for blocking the Suez Canal – despite being on a different boat hundreds of miles away.

Marwa Elselehdar was working as a first mate in command of the Aida IV in Alexandria when the Ever Given became wedged in the canal, bringing the major shipping route to a halt.

But online rumours and fake news headlines spread the falsehood that she had caused the container ship to run aground in Suez.

Rumours about her role on the Ever Given were largely spurred by screenshots of a fake news headline – supposedly published by Arab News – which said she was involved in the Suez incident.

The doctored image appears to be from a genuine Arab News story, released on 22 March, which profiles Marwa's success as Egypt's first female ship captain. The picture has been shared dozens of times on Twitter and Facebook.

Several Twitter accounts under her name have also spread false claims that she was in involved with the Ever Given.

The 29-year-old said: "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure”

"This fake article was in English so it spread in other countries."

"The comments on the article were very negative and harsh but there were so many other supportive comments from ordinary people and people I work with.”

"I decided to focus on all the support and love I'm getting, and my anger turned to gratefulness."

She added: "Also, it is worth mentioning that I became even more famous than before.”

Marwa says she's always loved the sea, and was inspired to join the merchant navy after her brother enrolled at the Arab Academy for Science Technology & Maritime Transport (AASTMT).

Though the academy only accepted men at the time, she applied anyway and was granted permission to join after a legal review by Egypt's then-President Hosni Mubarak.

During her studies, Ms Elselehdar says she faced sexism at every turn.

"Onboard, they were all older men with different mentalities, so it was difficult not to be able to find like-minded people to communicate with.

"It was challenging to go through this alone and be able to overcome it without affecting my mental health."

She added: "People in our society still don't accept the idea of girls working in the sea away from their families for a long time, but when you do what you love, it is not necessary for you to seek the approval of everyone.”


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