When I last wrote about Amina Tyler, there was not much information to be had. For those who have not been following this story, the nineteen year old Tunisian woman first came to the attention of the world when she put up a photograph of herself on her Facebook page declaring herself to be a supporter of the feminist group FEMEN, a group I only became aware of when I attended a marriage equality demonstration in Paris last December. In the photograph, she was topless with the words “My body belongs to me and is not the source of anyone’s honor” written across her torso. Adel Almi, a Salafist preacher and president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, in Tunisia, called for her execution by means of stoning. On March 16th, she appeared on the Tunisian television talk show, Labes, to explain why she joined Femen. Shortly afterward, she disappeared from view for a time. Her family had kept her locked up and given her psychiatric medications and forced her to read the Koran. On April 4th, there were world-wide protests in support of Amina. In mid-April she escaped from her family and contacted the Femen website. She began to make plans to move to France where she would continue her education.
Since that time, she has continued speaking out and protesting. Acting against the advice of friends and political supporters, she wanted to continue to engage in political protests while waiting to move to France. On May 21 she appeared in court as a result of writing “FEMEN” on the wall of a mosque for which she was charged with “desecrating a grave” and “attacking modesty.” Nadia El Fani, the Franco-Tunisian film director, and Caroline Fourest, the French journalist, called the charges, which could result in six months to two years in prison, “ubuesque” in an article written in support of Amina which appeared in the French news magazine Marianne. A photograph of the graffiti in question can be found on Caroline Fourest’s blog.
Three other members of Femen, two from France and one from Germany, staged a topless protest in front of the courthouse when Amina Tyler went on trial on May 30th. According to Maryam Namazie:
the three FEMEN activists – Marguerite, Josephine and Pauline – who staged a topless protest at the court in Tunisia at Amina’s first hearing and who are now in jail and face prison terms must be freed immediately. In the courtroom, the activists bags had been put over their heads and they were covered in blankets; the judge banned photos and videos. According to human rights activist Patrick Klugman, who came from Paris to represent the interests of the FEMEN said: “I am horrified. Without giving FEMEN activists permission to speak, the court listened only to Salafi organizations which are not even the defendants in this case! Fair trial did not take place because the accused have not been released from custody, and they were not even heard.” Pre-trial is set for June 12.
I had to search multiple sources to write this up and I hope I got all the facts right. Most of the information came via Mayam Namazie and Caroline Fourest.
On Monday, the United States senator from the state of New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg, passed away. He was a consistent advocate for the separation of church and state. There is a very interesting article about his opposition to the conservative activist and writer of false American history books, David Barton, on Chris Rodda’s blog. It’s probably a little too steeped in the American Constitution for anyone who’s not highly familiar with our laws regarding the separation of church and state. Still, it makes for interesting reading.