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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.