The Ukrainian-based feminist group FEMEN, famous for their international bare-breasted protests, stormed a conference in Paris attended by Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki in their recent 'Topless Jihad' campaign to protect Muslim women's rights.
The topless activists came to support Tunisian Amina Tyler, who has been threatened with death in her home country for posting a topless picture of herself online. They also demanded the names of those who shot and killed Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid in February, chanting “Who killed Chokri Belaid?”
Amina Tyler, 19, wrote “My body is mine, not somebody's
honor" across her chest in Arabic in a show of solidarity with
FEMEN, and made the image public. The picture sparked rage among
religious Muslimsm and ultraconservative Tunisian religious groups
now say the girl deserves death by stoning.
Hackers defaced the FEMEN Tunisia page on Facebook, and Tyler now says she wants to leave Tunisia.
FEMEN has called for topless protests at Tunisian embassies and
mosques around the world to “demand freedom for Amina,”
calling her act the “beginning of a global war between a woman
and an Islamist theocracy.”
According to French press, Marzouki, whose speech the FEMEN women interrupted, said he was “surprised” by the protests. The girls were detained by guards and escorted out.
FEMEN launched their 'Topless Jihad' campaign last week, and the
movement has already sparked heated debate in and around Muslim
communities in Europe. FEMEN claims they are fighting for the
rights of Muslims to make free choices, and to not be slaves to
Islamic rules and restrictions concerning appearance and
The group held 'International Topless Jihad Day' in capitals such as Berlin, Kiev and Paris, painting their topless bodies with slogans like “Bare breasts against Islamism.”
“We’re free, we’re naked, it’s our right, it’s our body, it’s
our rules, and nobody can use religion and other holy things to
abuse women, to oppress them,” FEMEN member Aleksandra
Shevchenko said during a small demonstration in front of a Berlin
However, not all Muslim women appear to be willing to rush into topless freedom: Thousands joined the Facebook group “Muslim Women Against FEMEN” and declared their own “Muslimah Pride Day,” uploading photos of themselves with signs reading “Freedom of Choice ” and “I can support women’s rights with my clothes on .”
Numerous YouTube videos by Muslim women have been posted
ridiculing FEMEN's protests for women's rights. Tyler herself was
reportedly taken aback by FEMEN's actions after they burned an
Islamic black flag during one of their protests.
"Everyone will think I encouraged them to do that," she told French Canal+. "They insulted all Muslims. It's not acceptable."
FEMEN, however, are unmoved by the outcry. "They write on their posters that they don't need liberation, but in their eyes it's written 'help me,'” Shevchenko told the Huffington Post.