Source: AFP (Amy)
Bare-breasted activists staged rallies in front of mosques and Tunisian embassies in Berlin and across Europe Thursday against what they called an Islamist crackdown on Arab women’s rights.
Protesters from the Ukrainian women’s power group Femen held “International Topless Jihad Day” in capitals such as Berlin, Kiev and Paris and painted their torsos with slogans including “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 some other holy things, to abuse women, to oppress them,” Femen member Alexandra Shevchenko said at a small demonstration in front of a Berlin mosque amid temperatures near the freezing point.
“And we’ll fight against them. And our boobs will be stronger than their stones.”
The rallies targeted in particular the case of a Tunisian activist calling herself Amina Tyler who sparked a scandal last month when she posted pictures of herself online with the words “My body belongs to me” and “Fuck your morals” emblazoned across her naked breasts.
Supporters fear she could face criminal prosecution.
Police in Kiev detained two young activists with “Free Amina” on their exposed chests immediately after their arrival in front of the city’s sole mosque.
Around two dozen topless feminists in Paris whose bodies were tagged with “No Islamists” and “No sharia” tried to approach the Tunisian embassy but were deterred by police as they emerged from the subway, an AFP photographer said.
And in Brussels a small group of women stripped to the waist gathered in front of the Grand Mosque shouting “Fuck your morals” and “Free Amina”, while three protested briefly outside the Tunisian consulate in Milan.
Tunisia was once seen as one of the Arab world‘s most progressive countries on women’s rights.
But NGOs have accused the Islamist party Ennahda, which came to power after the revolution that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali‘s regime in 2011, of seeking to roll back women’s rights. They say those rights must be enshrined in a new constitution expected this year.
The Femen group has been making headlines since 2010 for eye-catching protests against various causes since 2010.
Government officials in Brussels, Belgium banned Wednesday a popular Christmas tree exhibit out of concerns that the local Muslim population found it “offensive.”
An “electronic winter tree,” will take the place of the traditional Christmas Tree and Nativity scene at the city center of Grand Place, reports Brussels News.
The electronic sculpture will stand 25 meters (82 feet) tall and consists of a set of television screens, reports Brussels Expat. “During the daytime you can climb to the top of the tree where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city,” the website explains. “As soon as it becomes dark the tree turns into a spectacle of light and sound. Every ten minutes an amazing show will unfold.”
City councilwoman Bianca Debaets believes a “misplaced argument” over religious sensitivities has moved Brussels to put up the light sculpture. She points to the fact that it display not be referred to “Christmas” in any way to make her point.
“I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor” in replacing the tree, she told reporters. “For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”
Many cities in Belgium have thriving Muslim populations. A 2008 study showed Muslims make up 25.5-percent of the population of Brussels, 3.9-percent of Flanders, and 4.0-percent of Wallonia.
Two Muslims elected to the Brussels city council last month have vowed to turn Belgium into a Muslim state based on Sharia law, as previously reported.
“Must a historic city like Brussels be sensitive to traditions? And should be a multi-religious city like Brussels not leave room for the individuality of every philosophy?,” Debaets asks.
Other city officials insists the move was not made to placate Muslims or other groups. Nicolas Dassonville, spokesman for Mayor Thielemans (PS), said the Nativity scene will remain at Grand Place
The tree’s sponsor, electricity generator Electrabel, made the move to put up the electronic sculpture this year, Dassonville said.