Three European Femen activists have been jailed for public indecency in Tunisia. The Brussels protest came one day before their appeal was to resume in Tunis.
The protest saw three topless women covered with slogans such as “Free Marguerite” and “Free Josephine” throw themselves on the black BMW carrying Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh as he made his way to an appointment with EU President Herman Van Rompuy.
Security guards pulled the women off the car and held them back to allow Laarayedh’s convoy to proceed.
The protest occurred right after the premier had met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who urged him to continue his country’s democratic transition, including drafting a new constitution and holding elections.
Neither Van Rompuy nor Barroso specifically mentioned the jailing of the Femen activists, which had prompted earlier European criticism, although Van Rompuy said the European Union was keen to support judicial reforms that guarantee “fairness and the freedom of expression.”
Two members of Ukrainian feminist protest group FEMEN have tried to stage a topless protest during a visit by French President Francois Hollande to the Paris Air Show but were handcuffed by his bodyguards and removed from the show site in the Bourget.
The two young women were intercepted while they were moving toward Hollande shouting “Liberate FEMEN” and crying out the names of two of three French women who were sentenced to four months of jail in Tunisia on June 12 for a similar demonstration. One German woman joined the French women in the Tunisian action and received the same prison term.
FEMEN activists this morning staged a bare-chested protest in Berlin ahead of a planned speech in the city by Barack Obama.
Two women dressed only in denim shorts struggled with clash police in the German capital’s Tiergarten district, near to where the President spoke this afternoon.
Across their breasts and bellies was written the slogan: ‘Obama help.’
In a statement emailed to the MailOnline, FEMEN explained that the protest was a call for Obama to intervene to free activists held in Tunisia and help advance the emancipation of women in the Middle East.
‘FEMEN appeal to the leader of world democracy the president of USA Barack Obama about the violation of human rights in the Middle East and ask to contribute to the release of Tunisian prisoners of FEMEN,’ it said.
A Tunisian court has handed four-month jail sentences to a German and two French feminists for staging the first topless protest in an Arab country.
The three members of the famous Femen activist organization were charged with public indecency after protesting in support of their imprisoned sister-in-arms Amina Tyler.
The court “condemned the three Femen activists to four months and one day in prison for an attack on public morals and indecency”, their lawyer, Souheib Bahri, told the media.
Ms. Tyler was put behind bars after reportedly writing “Femen” on a wall in the religious centre of Kairouan. She previously caused an outrage among some Tunisians by posting photos of herself topless with the slogan “my body is my own” written on her torso.
Tunisia has recently seen an increase in the prominence of ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafists, who campaign for greater public piety in the country, following the ouster of secularist Ben Ali.
Today, outside of the Tunisian embassy in Madrid, 3 protestors took their tops off in opposition to the 3 activists held in custody. The 3, who were arrested on May 29, were cuffed and taken away for being half naked at a demonstration in Tunisia.
The activists from the group Femen, a feminist organization, took off their shirts, exposed their breasts with words on their body, asking for the release of the 3 who are staying behind bars in Tunisia.
“Femen is here today protesting because in Tunisia they have jailed three of our activists who are being judged today just for defending themselves and going to protest for the rights of women in Tunisia,” said one of the Madrid protesters, Lara Alcazar.
Posters were held high above their heads, with different phrases like “To Fight Is a Right”, “Free Femen” and “Imprisoned for Being Feminists”. The ten minute protest was not stopped by police. They did attract some attention from people passing by, and some even peeking out of the Tunisian embassy window.
Voice of Russia, Interfax, BBC, AFP, Daily Mail, dpa