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International topless jihad day aims to promote women's rights

April 5, 2013

Women all over Europe stripped to the waist April 4 in support of international topless jihad day, a protest organized by Ukrainian women's rights group Femen​.

A show of support 
The protest was organized in response to the international uproar caused by Tunisian Femen member Amina Tyler's March 2013 decision to upload two topless photos of herself to the internet. Both pictures featured pro-female empowerment slogans  painted on her chest in Arabic.  

Reactions to Tyler's protest were swift and intense.  

"The young lady should be punished according to sharia, with 80 to 100 lashes, but (because of) the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves be stoned to death," said the head of the Tunisian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Almi Adel, reported the New York Daily News.

Femen's response to the reactions was to organize international topless jihad day, where women in European cities such as Brussels, Kiev and Paris doffed their shirts and took to the streets in protest of the perceived subjugation of women associated with Islamist regimes. 

"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," the group wrote on their Facebook page on the day of the protests.

Responses to the protest
Two protestors in Kiev faced immediate detention by police upon arrival at the city's only mosque. Approximately two dozen Parisian activists attempted to bring the protest to the Tunisian embassy, but were deterred by police upon existing the subway system, reported the Global Post. In Brussels protestors were allowed to gather in front of the city's Grand Mosque, but were removed from their post in front of the Tunisian consulate. 

Criticism has come from more liberal quarters as have noted that antics such as topless protests are more likely to harm the conditions of women in oppressive cultures than help and tend to distract attention from more organized and established human rights efforts. New Statesmen commentator Bim Adewunmi also expressed concerns that the protestor's message could come across as broadly anti-Islam instead of in protest to sharia regimes.

Amina Tyler has largely disappeared from the public eye since the original photographs were posted, some are concerned that she could face arrest in Tunisia. 

Those living in international cities where the protests took place could consider picking up an international calling card to discuss where they stand on Amina Tyler and the protests she sparked. 


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