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12 Jun, 2013 16:53

Tunisia sentences topless Femen protesters to 4 months behind bars

Tunisia sentences topless Femen protesters to 4 months behind bars

Three women who staged the first ‘Arab world’ Femen stunt in Tunisia on May 29 have been sentenced to four months behind bars for indecency and attacking public morals. The topless activists had been protesting in support of an arrested Tunisian woman.

The two French nationals and one German had stood by the capital’s courthouse shouting “Free Amina,” in support of the Tunisian who had been arrested and was later tried for protesting the policies of hardline Islamists.

“I came on May 28 to stage a political demonstration and support Amina (Sboui, a detained Tunisian activist). We made our plan on the Internet and came from Paris,” one of the activists, Josephine Markmann, told a courtroom prior to the sentencing on Wednesday.

 A file picture taken on May 29, 2013 shows three activists from the women's movement Femen demonstrating in front of the justice Palace in Tunis, before being arrested. The three women, two French and one German, face jail terms of up to a year when they go on trial in Tunis on June 5, although their lawyer is confident of a lighter sentence (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

“Baring our breasts is not intended to cause sexual excitement but is a form of activism,” said one of the French activists, Marguerite Stern, according to AFP.
The socially conservative country strongly objected to their protest, with a number of witnesses, including lawyers, trying to cover up the young women. Some attacked journalists, claiming they were giving the activists a platform for their antics. 

One of the three lawyers for the prosecution, Monaam Turki, said their controversial act could have been considered an attack on state security “under article 71 of the penal code, which carries a one-year prison sentence.”

Amina Sboui (C), the Tunisian member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, appears handcuffed with a cloth over her head before an investigating judge at the courthouse of the central city Tunisian of Kairouan (AFP Photo)

Tunisian protestors hold a a placard praising Islamic values as they shout slogans outside the courthouse where Amina Sboui, the Tunisian member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, is being put on trial charged with illegal possession of pepper spray on May 30, 2013 in the central city of Kairouan (AFP Photo / Salah Habibi)

Indecency in Tunisia is potentially punishable by a full six months in prison. The spokesman for Tunisia’s justice ministry had warned that the activists would not escape trial.

Three other members of Femen staged a similar protest outside the Tunisian embassy in Madrid on Wednesday to demand that their fellow activists be released.

Members of the women's topless protest group Femen hold banners during a protest in front of the European Union Parliament on June 12, 2013 in Brussels, to support a detained Tunisian activist and four other Femen, two French and one German, arrested in Tunis for baring their breasts outside the main courthouse on May 29, in solidarity with a Tunisian activist who had been arrested 10 days earlier (AFP Photo / John Thys)