An international day that calls for women to go topless in the name of freedom creates an opposition movement. Afia R Fitriati has the story.
In mid-March, 19-year-old Tunisian Amina Tyler made headlines when she posted on Facebook topless pictures of herself with ‘Fuck your morals’ written across her chest. Amina told Tunisian newspaper Jadal that she wanted to ‘make the voice of Tunisian women heard and protect them from suppression’. Amina is affiliated with Femen, an activist group that frequently stages topless protests to direct attention to their causes.
Her act stirred nationwide attention. Amina’s half-naked photos on the Femen Tunisia Facebook page were soon joined by other topless photos bearing similar messages. Following the publication of the pictures, the page was hacked and its photos replaced by Qur’anic verses. A Tunisian preacher condemned Amina’s daring act by saying that she should be punished with lashes or stoned to death. Amina herself disappeared following widespread condemnation against her.
Her disappearance has prompted a wave of protests across Europe by Femen activists. Femen organised a petition calling for prosecution against those who had threatened Amina’s life and on Thursday held a ‘Topless Jihad Day’. In Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Milan and Kiev, dozens of Femen activists protested using their bare chests as billboards to display slogans such as ‘Free Amina’, ‘Bare breasts against Islamism’, and ‘Naked freedom’.
In response to the protests, a group of Muslim women who call themselves Muslim Women Against Femen has initiated a counter-campaign calling for a Muslimah pride day. The group encourages their supporters to post photos that answer to Femen’s statements as well as tweeting with the hashtag #MuslimahPride. Two such images are below.
On Twitter, Mariam Mansour tweeted, ‘Sorry what? You want me go topless to prove my hijab doesn’t oppress me? I feel oppressed being asked to do that.’ Another Twitter user by the name Elle Armageddon commented, ‘I can’t explain how happy the #MuslimahPride counterprotest against Femen makes me. I am overjoyed to see women standing up for themselves.’
Meanwhile, despite news that Amina had been admitted to a mental hospital by her family, her lawyer told reporters that she was in safety, ‘doing fine and was going to take up school again soon.’