Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Feminist Protest Exposes Tunisian Islamist Justice

June 14, 2013 8:43 am 0 comments

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki (front right). Photo: wiki commons.

Under Tunisia’s “moderate” Islamist government, you can attack and vandalize the American embassy and still walk free. But if a woman bares her breasts in a form of protest, a four-month prison sentence is considered too lax.

A Tunisian judge sentenced three European feminists Wednesday to four months in prison for a topless protest outside the courthouse. Their supporters expected to be fined or deported, London’s Independent reports. European Union officials blasted the sentence as excessive.

“To ensure … freedom of expression, the EU underlines the need to revise [Tunisian] laws inherited from the previous regimes, which can be used to restrict it,” spokesman Michael Mann said.

Two weeks earlier, a Tunisian court issued suspended sentences for 20 people accused of causing property damage at the U.S. Embassy and setting cars there on fire during violence last September.

The women – two from France and one German – are part of group called Femen. “Breast Feed Revolution,” the women wrote across their chests. They came to Tunisia late last month to protest the arrest of a colleague, Amina Tyler, a Tunisian who was arrested after posting a topless picture of herself on Facebook with the message “My body belongs to me and not the honor of others” written on her chest in Arabic.

That’s not the way Tunisian Islamists see it.

“In Islam we respect our mothers, our sisters, our wives. Islam respects women and their physical dignity. Public nudity is forbidden. We reject the actions of Femen,” prosecutor Slah Barkati told the court.

Attorneys for Islamist groups who wanted to be parties to the case wanted to define freedom for the women. “It is Islam that honours women and offers them freedom, not the act of undressing,” attorney Slah Khlifi said in a Middle East Online report. Another attorney said the topless protest constituted an attack on state security under Tunisian law and is punishable by up to a year in prison.

On the other hand, a veteran Tunisian feminist said Femen’s actions were counter-productive for her cause and asked that the group stay out of Tunisia in the future. Provocative actions like topless protests come off as signs of western debauchery. “We Tunisian feminists are trying to steer the discussion away from identity. Women’s rights are a social and political issue,” Maya Jribi said in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Tunisia was the first country to see governmental change in the 2011 “Arab Spring.” But the rise of the Islamist Ennahda Party has not eased tension there, as radical Salafis gain stature and a secular opposition leader was gunned down in February. While news outlets continue to call Ennahda “moderate” – the Reuters report on the Femen protest did just that – the group’s leader envisions Islamists soon dominating the Arab world. Rachid Ghannouchi also predicted the Arab Spring would “threaten the extinction of Israel.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →