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Topless Protesters Interrupt Controversial Muslim Conference On Women – Nipples Will Save The World!

If you were sitting there this morning thinking, “Gee, it’s been awhile since FEMEN staged a topless protest of something, I wonder if they’re okay,” worry no more. Two members of the camera friendly feminist group were arrested over the weekend after they stormed the stage at a Muslim conference in France.

According to The Telegraph, the two protestors disguised themselves in full robes in order to be admitted to the conference, which was controversial for its inclusion of fundamentalist preachers who oppose women’s rights and attempt to mix religion with politics. As you can see in the video, the two women took their robes off to reveal bare chests with slogans written across them that translate to “No one subjugates me” and “I am my own prophet.” They rushed the stage, grabbed the mic, and began yelling things to that effect in both French and Arabic before being dragged away by security. It appears at least one man physically attacked them before being stopped by security himself.

This was no blind attack on a random symbol of Islam; this conference was said to represent an extreme branch of the religion that the vast majority of Muslims do not subscribe to. While it claimed to address women’s issues, the ideas it brought forth were far from progressive. A Change.org petition against the conference notes that it included voices like “Nader Abu Anas, known to have legitimized marital rape and more broadly the submission of women.”

Writing in HuffPost.fr, FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko states that Imam Anas Abou Nader was actually trying to improve his image that day by reversing his position on wife beating from “definitely do it” to “maybe don’t do it.” But his views remained retrograde — and more importantly, political — enough that he still warranted a topless protest. In response to charges of Islamophobia, she maintained once again that FEMEN doesn’t care what religions people practice in private; they only protest when people, religious or otherwise, attempt to infringe on the rights of others. Via HuffPost.fr and Google translate (with tweaks from me):

The evening of the action, a flood of hate messages spread through various tweets on Twitter calling to kill us or rape us. The next day the only defense of the Muslim organizers of Salon was accusing FEMEN of Islamophobia. Far-right supporters also handled our words to put in the service of their racist ideology. It was fun to see how two normally opposing gangs of extremists, religious extremism and the French extreme right, took advantage of the situation to justify even fascism.

But let’s be clear, religious apologetics or extreme right, we will not let you turn our words or transform reality. The charge of Islamophobia is non-responsive. FEMEN came combating misogynist ideas spread by imams in the name of religion. FEMEN think and cry out loud that any ideology that promotes the oppression must be denounced and condemned, whether religious in origin or not. Believers and non-believers, we call on you to denounce and to fight all anti-women ideas and all obscurantism! The organizers and participants of the Muslim Salon should be convicted of femmophobia because their message is based on a generalized hatred of women. If a fourth edition of the Muslim Exhibition to be held, FEMEN would be delighted to hold a conference on women’s rights instead of imams. Nobody submits me, nobody owns me, I’m my own prophet.

On the one hand, I agree that oppressive ideologies should be opposed by whatever means possible, and topless protests are certainly a way to draw attention from click-hungry news media. On a purely tactical level, though, disrespecting Islam to the degree that FEMEN does is only likely to stir up sympathy for the people they are protesting and stoke charges of Islamophobia. Also, Buzzfeed France opposes FEMEN’s very characterization of the conference as fundamentalist and intolerant, saying it was much more moderate than that. I invite anyone with firsthand knowledge of the conference to weigh in with additional info.

Topless Protesters Interrupt Controversial Muslim Conference On Women – Nipples Will Save The World!

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