Topless Protesters: Three Femen Activists Arrested in Tunisia

Femen activists protest the arrest of fellow Tunisian activist Amina Tyler in front of the Justice Ministry in Tunis. Zoom

Femen activists protest the arrest of fellow Tunisian activist Amina Tyler in front of the Justice Ministry in Tunis.

Three European women with the feminist activist group Femen were arrested in Tunis on Wednesday after holding a topless protest in front of the Ministry of Justice. Stagedagainst the imprisonment of a fellow activist, it was their first such stunt in the Arab world.

Wearing nothing but shorts and slogans painted on their bodies, three foreign Femen activists were detained in Tunisia on Wednesday for protesting the arrest of a fellow activist.

The group undressed in front of the Justice Ministry in the capital of Tunis to reveal the words "Breasts Feed Revolution" scrawled on their torsos. Bystanders tried to cover them as the women chanted, "Women's spring is coming" and "Free Amina." One of their signs read "Fuck your morals."

A 19-year-old Tunisian woman who calls herself Amina Tyler shocked the country in March when she posted topless photos of herself online with the words, "My body is my own and not your honor," written on her skin. She received death threats and went into hiding after the Femen-inspired protest.

Then, last month she said she wanted to do a final topless protest before leaving the country for her studies, AP reported. She was arrested on May 19 in the religious center of Kairouan where an ultraconservative Muslim group had intended to hold a conference before it was banned by police. According to AFP, Tyler painted the word "Femen" on a wall near a cemetery shortly before being apprehended. She was charged with carrying a dangerous object, allegedly pepper spray, and will go before a judge on Thursday. She faces two years in prison.

The protest of Tyler's arrest was quickly brought to an end when police took the three women -- two French and one German -- into a nearby building.

It is the first protest of its kind to take place in the Arab world, said Femen founder Inna Shevchenko in Paris. Even so, the activists knew they were taking a risk. Immoral behavior is punished with up to six months in prison in the North African country.

Femen was founded in Ukraine as a protest movement against the oppression of women. The organization recently caused a stir by holding topless demonstrations in front of mosques and Tunisian embassies in several European cities. With their so-called "topless jihad," they called for the self-determination over their bodies that they say is threatened by Islamism.

kla/chw -- with wires

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