In March 2013, a nineteen-year-old Tunisian named Amina Tyler posted two topless photographs of herself on FEMEN’s Facebook page. In one image she is shown with the words “FUCK YOUR MORALS” painted across her bare chest. In the other picture, she is portrayed smoking a cigarette, wearing red lipstick, and with the following message written in Arabic across her naked frontal torso: “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”.
Predictably, Salafi cleric Almi Adel, leader of Tunisia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, called for Tyler to be “punished according to sharia, with eighty to a hundred lashes, but [because of] the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves to be stoned to death”.
In support of Tyler, the Kiev-based feminist group FEMEN declared April 4th the International Topless Jihad Day, which consisted in white young women protesting topless against Islamist regimes at the entrance of mosques and Tunisian embassies around the globe. Because Muslim women do not have a voice of their own. They are all mute. Because Muslim women are inherently oppressed. Aha. And because the only way to liberate them all is by enforcing Western ideals upon their communities. Of course.
Well, last time I checked, 7,172 Muslim women with voices of their own -really!- liked the Facebook page Muslim Women Against FEMEN, which “exposes FEMEN for the Islamophobes/Imperialists that they are”. The cover photograph of the Facebook page reads: “Nudity DOES NOT liberate me and I DO NOT need saving #MuslimahPride #FEMEN”. Just saying…
Enlightened -please, note the satire- FEMEN activist Alexandra Shevchenko declared before a mosque in Berlin: “Our boobs will be stronger than their stones”. As a woman, I would like to say: “f*uck you” FEMEN for portraying female emancipation as synonymous with boobs rather than brains. Suggestion: What about weaponising brains instead of boobs?
Another brilliant idea of FEMEN activists was to burn a Salafist flag in front of the Grande Mosquée de Paris. Three topless FEMEN activists started frolicking around the burning flag offending nearby worshippers. As if Parisian Muslims were responsible for the state of women rights in Islamic regimes. As if ALL Muslims were Salafists. FEMEN, congratulations for your amazing work towards perpetuating the stereotype of the Muslim community as monolithic rather than diverse. Hurrah.
Even Tunisian high-schooler Tyler thought the action was insulting. “I am against that,” she told French TV Canal+. “They didn’t insult a certain kind of Muslim, the extremists, but all Muslims”. Yeah, they did.
Neither does t-shirtless Tyler nor boob-jihadist FEMEN represent Tunisian and Muslim women nor does Salafi cleric Almi Adel represent the Muslim ethos. Rather, they all represent backwardness.
In contrast to Tylor and her fellow FEMEN colleagues, who employ nudity as a tool of protest, talented Egyptian cartoonist Doaa Eladl employed her intellect to highlight issues such as underage marriage and sexual attacks against female demonstrators during the revolution. In late December, she was accused of blasphemy following the publication of one of her pieces in the Al-Masry Al-Youm. Unfortunately, her case did not receive as much attention as Tyler’s physical assets. Clearly, the media is not into pencils and brains as is into nipples.
“The FEMEN movement’s use of female nudity to defend the cause and the rights of women in the Arab world is counterproductive”, stated here Lebanese journalist Joumana Haddad, who is the founder of Jasad, the first Arab-language erotica magazine. “But I’m a little confused about this way of protesting that uses female nudity. We live in a world that only gives you two choices: a burqa or nudity. I think there is a third way: the dignity of women”. ... drumroll… CHAPEUX!