Tunisian feminist Amina Tyler arrested for ‘immoral gestures’


Tunisian activist Amina Tyler was arrested on Sunday (19 May), after allegedly attempting to stage a topless protest in the central Tunisian city of Kairouan.

Tyler, who heads Tunisia’s branch of feminist movement FEMEN, first faced controversy in March, after posting topless photographs online. Ukranian feminist group FEMEN is notorious for its brand of bare-chested protest.

Hardline Salafi group Ansar al-Sharia was set to hold their annual congress in Kairouan on Sunday, but authorities banned the gathering. Tyler passed through the heavily guarded checkpoints around the city, set up to enforce the ban on the Salafi gathering. Salafis in the city clashed with security forces shortly before Tyler’s arrest.

The activist reportedly painted the word “FEMEN” as well as anti-salafist slogans on a cemetery wall near al-Okba mosque, one of Tunisia’s most important and historic religious sites. Collective blog Nawaat released a video of Tyler’s arrest — which occurred shortly after she was surrounded by local residents yelling for her to leave. Local police said that residents became enraged once Tyler attempted to take off her clothes.

A spokesman for Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior on Monday called Tyler’s protest “an act of provocation”, and “against the morals and traditions of Tunisian society, which is a Muslim society.” Tyler has not yet been charged, but she will appear in court today. Public indecency is punishable under Tunisian law, and if charged Tyler could face up to six months in jail.

Sara Yasin is an Editorial Assistant at Index. She tweets from @missyasin

Tunisian woman under fire for bare-breasted protest

FEMENA 19-year-old Tunisian women’s rights activist, known only as Amina, has come under fire for posting a topless photograph of herself online. Amina is a member of FEMEN, a Ukranian radical feminist group notorious for their topless protests. Weeks ago, Amina uploaded a picture of herself  to a website she started for the group in Tunisia, with ”My Body is My Own and Not the Source of Anyone’s Honor” written across her bare chest.

Late last week, the Paris-based head of the group, Inna Shevchenko, claimed that Amina had been committed to a psychiatric ward by her family members. Shevchenko told the Atlantic that she last heard from Amina on 18 March. Her disappearance came after a 16 March appearance on Tunisian talkshow Labes to talk about her controversial photographs. However, her lawyer Bouchra Bel Haj Hmida, told Tunisia live that she is not missing, and denied allegations that Amina has been sent to a psychiatric facility.

While no legal charges have been brought against Amina, Salafi preacher Adel Almi said days before her disappearance that she should be punished with 80-100 lashes, and called for her to be stoned to death. According to Bel Haj Hmida, Amina could face up to six months of jail-time if charged with public indecency.

Women from across the globe have posted photographs of themselves topless online, with messages of support for Amina scrawled across their bodies. A petition for her release has now garnered over 84,000 signatures.

Secular activist Maryam Namazie has called for 4 April to be declared International Day to Defend Amina, in order to “remind the Islamists and the world that the real epidemic and disaster that must be challenged is misogyny — Islamic or otherwise.”

Sara Yasin is an Editorial Assistant at Index. She tweets from @missyasin