Happy

Young people in Tunisia are posting videos of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s Happy song as a form of defiance.

Islamists have said the dancing is just “debauchery and moral decay” but the videos have received tens of thousands of hits and loads of support. Their coming to power heralds the death of music and dance so dancing is a really good way of challenging their regression.

In March of last year, Tunisian high school students did a protest version of the Harlem Shake pitting them against the Islamists.

You know the well known saying: If I can’t dance I won’t join your revolution…

It should now say: “I’ll dance to defend my revolution…”

Here are some of the videos:

(Via Marieme Helie Lucas)

Channel 4 – Report on this!

I wrote earlier about Channel 4’s daily call to prayer for Ramadan as much of the same old same old pandering to identity politics.

In my previous post I mentioned how Channel 4 should report on the many who refuse to fast and who are threatened into fasting and still refuse.

Here’s a great example of what I was talking about:

After an Islamist threatened that his “Moderate Association for Awareness and Reform” group (very moderate indeed!)  would “photograph and stigmatise” anyone who failed to fast, many Tunisians took to publishing photos of themselves eating during Ramadan.

Despite the Minister of Religious Affairs also saying that cafes and restaurants should be closed, the Tunisian president’s advisor had to intervene given the uproar it has caused saying:

“This is not a surprise if it stems from his position that Tunisia is a Muslim country, but Khademi [Minister of Religious Affairs] should be aware that observant Muslims have the right to practice their faith during the month of Ramadan, yet there are a large number of non-observant Muslims and non-Muslims who reside in Tunisia”.

Hear that Channel 4. Why not report on this too?

Of course I won’t be holding my breath.

Witch Trials in Tunisia

The three young German and French FEMEN activists who protested topless at a Tunisian court in defence of Amina have been sentenced to four months in prison! According to an interview with one of their lawyers:

We knew that the maximum sentence was six months. The court in Tunis has not gone so far but has chosen a very heavy penalty, widely disproportionate to the facts. How to explain it? They probably wanted to condemn freedom of expression. Last week, the hearing was postponed under pressure of fifteen highly virulent conservative and Islamic associations. It is this pressure that may explain the severity of this judgement, which is a form of witchcraft trials, the offence of blasphemy.

Another lawyer said:

Heavy sentences for three European FEMEN activists is a bad sign for Amina. She did nothing, yet she faces up to twelve years in prison.”

Could this be?

It cannot and must not.

We must stand with Pauline, Margarite, Josephine and Amina until they are free.

If there is any justice, the four would be free and the Islamists who threaten and kill with impunity would be in prison.

FEMEN is collecting donations for the legal appeal; to help the parents of the three meet their daughters in jail; a permanent FEMEN observer in Tunis; for clothes and food for the four; a public campaign against Tunisian authorities…

Support the campaign and please donate here.

Amina represents me and us.

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(Also read an interview with Amina’s father. You can use google translate to read it.)

Amina: No more moral lessons

Here is the latest photo from Amina Tyler of FEMEN Tunisia. No More Moral Lessons, indeed!

You can donate to support Amina here; I just did.

nomore

Amina continues her protests in Tunisia.

On 1 May, Amina and other activists protested against the representatives of the Congress Party for the Republic Moncef Marzouki, including against the Minister of Women’s Rights Sihem Badi. There were calls for Badi to resign with protesters chanting “Badi get out!” and “Government of terrorism, minister of rape.” You can see a video of Amina protesting here:

Long Live Amina!

Support Amina!

555131_562483327107367_155145990_nDear friends,

Amina is asking for support! She is preparing to escape from Tunisia for her own safety. Please join the campaign to support Amina by donating here.

As has been previously reported, Amina was kidnapped by her family after posting a topless photo of herself for Femen Tunisia. On April 12, Amina managed to escape. She was able to get her papers. But they are outdated, and are being renewed. She is now safe. Thanks to all those who mobilised on her behalf. [More information can be found here.]

We now need her to look ahead with regards her safety. Applications for a scholarship for her have been made, and will be in place in September. In the meantime, we need 4,000 Euros ($5,200) to pay for travel and accommodation, food and security until September. If we raise more, we can meet Amina’s security needs beyond September.

The practicality of the call for donations will be managed by the organisation, Prochoix.

Upon receipt of the donations by Prochoix via the crowdfunding platform, Filmmaker Nadia El Fani who is in daily contact with Amina will be responsible for ensuring Amina’s needs are met.

Collectif Free Amina
Fiammetta Venner (Prochoix)
Nadia El Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker

Amina: “I will continue the struggle in Tunisia”

Amina’s first talk with FEMEN’s Inna Shevchenko after her escape from detention. Amina was kidnapped, denied contact with friends and FEMEN, beaten, taken to a psychiatrist, drugged, forced to read the Koran and taken to imams though she is an atheist, taught “morals”, given a virginity test… all because she posted a topless photo of herself with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” and “fuck your morals”.

Amina says she will not leave Tunisia until she does another topless action; she will continue the struggle…

And we will stand with her.

Here is the wonderful Amina:

Long Live Amina!

***

Congratulations to all those who defended Amina on the International Day to Defend Amina and shame on those who chose to side with Islam and Islamism.

Freedom is my culture.

Today is our day to defend our Amina

aminaUpdated 5 April, 22:00 hours

April 4 was our day to defend our Amina. The 19 year old Tunisian FEMEN activist whose only “crime” was to post a topless photo of herself saying: “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” and “fuck your morals”.

Whilst she has done nothing wrong, she has been effectively detained incommunicado by her family with the help of the police, and the latest reports say she has been drugged and beaten.

Amina says though that she has no regrets.

Our beloved Amina, this day is for you…

Some of the actions taken and statements made in support of Amina have been posted below.

  • On 4 April, there were actions in Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Kiev, London, Malmo, Milan, Montreal, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw and more to mark 4 April, the International Day to Defend Amina. You can see reports and photos from various events here as well as below:
  • A committee made up of Mina Ahadi, Nesan Nodinian, Gaby Schmidt, Eduard Von and Ahmad Rahmani met with the head of the Tunisian Consulate in Bonn to raise the demands of the International Day to Defend Amina.
    Doc1
  • Here are some photos from the Gothenburg protest: am1am2
  • Here is a television report and photos from Stockholm protest. Also another piece on Stockholm protest and here too. There are more photos on this siteCYO4th April13 Stockholm11CYO4th April13 Stockholm6 - Copy (1)CYO4th April13 Stockholm7 - CopyCYO4th April13 Stockholm6 - Copy
    DSC_0211DSC_0231DSC_0236
  • Here is a photo of the protest in Vancouver:IMG_20130404_163003
  • Here are photos from Frankfurt protest: 524833_10200927159326606_1549681464_n543877_10200927163366707_130962972_n

[Read more...]

Why an International Day to Defend Amina?

Capture d’écran 2013-03-25 à 22.46.08Below is a compilation of questions I have been responding to on 4 April for various journalists:

Why an International Day to Defend Amina?

When I heard that 19 year old Tunisian Amina had been threatened with death for posting a topless photo of herself bearing the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”, I knew we had to act.

Within 24 hours, a number of well known individuals and groups joined in a call to mark 4 April as an International Day to Defend Amina – both to unequivocally defend her and demand her safety and freedom whilst also demanding the prosecution of the Islamist who threatened her. Whilst Amina had done nothing wrong, the police aided her family in detaining her against her will and stopping all forms of communication with her friends and FEMEN rather than prosecuting those who detained and threatened her. She is still being held against her will and did not turn up at school this Monday as she was meant to. In a rare interview with a journalist, she said she was stressed but had no regrets.

In the last interview she gave before she was effectively kidnapped, she said women in Tunisia are ready for change:

“That women have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”

This is the wonderful woman we stand up for and with on 4 April.

Signatories to the call include: Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Egyptian Nude Photo Revolutionary; Caroline Fourest, Writer and Journalist; most recent film: “Our Breasts; Our Arms”; Darina Al-Joundi, Lebanese Actress and Author of “The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing”; Deeyah, Music Composer and Filmmaker; most recent film “Banaz: A Love Story” about an honour killing; Elia Tabesh, Iranian Women in Support of Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar; Inna Shevchenko, FEMEN Spokesperson; Kareem Amer, Egyptian Blogger; Kian Azar, Communist Youth Organisation; Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Sociologist and founder of Secularism is a Women’s Issue; Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson of International Committee against Stoning  and International Committee against Execution; Nadia El-Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker; most recent films “Neither Allah nor Master” and “Our Breasts; Our Arms”; Richard Dawkins, Scientist; Safia Lebdi, Co-founder of Neither Whores nor Submissives; and Taslima Nasrin, Bangladeshi Writer.

Are nudity and Islam completely incompatible? Do you see a time in which women in North Africa and the Middle East will be more free to show their bodies? How do you see what she did in a country like Tunisia?

All religions have a disturbing view of the female body. Islam is no different. The perfect woman under Islam is invisible. Islam is only worse in many ways because of its access to political power via the far-Right Islamic movement. Sharia law and Islamic states legislate and impose misogyny and perpetrate the debased view of women.

Women in North Africa and the Middle East will be freer the more Islam is relegated to a private affair and Islamism is pushed back from the public space. Actions like Amina’s help to challenge Islamism at its very core.

Islamism’s obsession with women’s bodies and its insistence that women be veiled, bound, and gagged means that nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.

Nudity is the antithesis of veiling. Of course it is not the only way to resist Islamism and the veil but it is a very modern way of doing so. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.

But nudity is not just a protest against Islamism and religious misogyny. It is fundamentally a protest against discrimination, the commodification of women, and the religious and chauvinistic culture built upon it – which is why it is on the increase and has been a part of the women’s liberation movement for some time.

Commodification relies on an objectified image that is separate from the reality of women’s bodies, minds and lives. This image is used to regulate, control and suppress. And this is what religion and pornography share, albeit in different forms. The actuality and frankness of women’s bodies as a form of protest challenges and upsets both.

Nudity is deeply humanising and revolutionary because it challenges the religious/pornographic view of women’s bodies and reclaims a tool used for women’s suppression. Nudity outrages and offends because of this very challenge. [Read more...]

Free Amina, Free Tunisia: It is the same cry

600286_500584530000840_728079130_nWriter and filmmaker Caroline Fourest, one of the signatories calling for an International Day to Defend Amina has written about Amina in French here.

Even with the not very fluent google translation into English, what is clear from her article is that Amina’s detention within her family – with the assistance of the police – does not equate safety.

Caroline calls on the activists attending the World Social Forum in Tunisia right now to shout with us “Free Amina, Free Tunisia!” Because it is the same cry.

Indeed it is…

Let’s Breast Them

makFdSHgjmUPDATED 3 April 2013 (More photos and actions below)

Demonstrations and actions are now being held in Brussels, Rio, Montreal, Vancouver, Paris, Berlin, Bremen, Bonn, Frankfurt, Malmo, Gotenburg, Stockholm, Milan, Kiev, London, San Francisco, Warsaw and more. See below for more details.

The 19 year old Tunisian Amina who posted a topless photo of herself with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has disappeared. Most likely her family have kidnapped her and taken her to an unknown location, (earlier reports mentioned a psychiatric hospital). What’s clear is that they have removed all forms of communication from her so that she can no longer be reached.

Filmmaker Caroline Fourest says:

One of the people who kidnapped Amina has been boasting that they did it for “her own good”. It is unclear though whether she has been hospitalised  or held somewhere else. Her phone has been taken from her and communication with her has stopped so  we are no longer in contact with her.

amina14We anxiously await news about her safety and situation and warn those who are holding her not to hurt her and to release her immediately.

Recently, someone posing as “Amina’s lawyer” has said she is safe and at home. The lawyer seems to be representing the family’s interests rather than Amina’s in order to stop the public mobilisation in her defence. There has been no contact whatsoever with Amina so we need to keep fighting for her! Read FEMEN’s statement here.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with Amina; it is society, the lack of women’s rights, the second class citizenship of women, the debased view of women’s bodies, the vile concept of honour and religious morality,  misogyny and Islamism and its Sharia law that are wrong.

In fact Amina’s is the voice of sanity, reason, protest and resistance. [Read more...]

Release Amina Now

aminaUPDATE 23/03/2013

One of the people who kidnapped Amina has been boasting that they did it for “her own good”. It is unclear though whether she has been hospitalised  or held somewhere else. Her phone has been taken from her and communication with her has been stopped so  we do not receive any information from her. (Via Caroline Fourest)

****

There are reports that 19 year old Amina who posted nude photos of herself for FEMEN Tunisia has been seized by her family and possibly the civil police (see video) and been hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital.

The only madness here is that she has been detained rather than those who have threatened her with stoning to death and are now denying her freedom.

She must be released immediately and unconditionally.

As she said,  “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”.

Hands off Amina Now!

4 April is the international day to defend Amina.

We will stand with her on that day and every day. She represents all of us.

World Social Forum being held in Tunis during 23-28 March 2013 take note: we expect you to take firm action in Amina’s defence.

(via Caroline Fourest)

 

4 April 2013: International Day to Defend Amina; she represents us

amina

UPDATES AND MORE:

4 April 2013: Today is our day to defend our Amina

3 April 2013: For Amina: My body against political Islam. No Sharia.

3 April 2013: On 4 April, we will breast them!

2 April 2013: Why an International Day to Defend Amina?

2 April 2013: I have no regrets

28 March 2013: Free Amina, Free Tunisia: It is the same cry

27 March 2013: Amina must be back at school next week

25 March 2013: Don’t stop fighting for Amina!

23 March 2013:Let’s Breast Them

Farsi translation of letter: آمنه صداي ماست

22 March 2013: Release Amina Now!

21 March 2013: FEMEN Tunisia’s Facebook page hacked

19 March 2013: Amina represents me

****

19 year old Tunisian Amina who posted a topless photo of herself bearing the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has been threatened with death.

Islamist cleric Adel Almi, president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, has called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death saying Amina’s actions will bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…”

We, the undersigned, unequivocally defend Amina, and demand that her life and liberty be protected and that those who have threatened her be immediately prosecuted.

On 4 April 2013, we call for an International Day to Defend Amina.

Amina represents us all.

On the day and beyond, groups and individuals can join in by highlighting her case, posting topless photos of themselves and their activism on social media sites, signing a petition, Tweeting #Amina, writing letters in her defence, and more.

On 4 April, we will remind the Islamists and the world that the real epidemic and disaster that must be challenged is misogyny – Islamic or otherwise.

Signed

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Egyptian Nude Photo Revolutionary
Alina Isabel Pérez, Filmmaker
Amanda Brown, We are Atheism Founder
Annie Sugier, President of Ligue du Droit International des Femmes
Arash T. Riahi, Film Director
Caroline Fourest, Writer and Journalist; most recent film: “Our Breasts; Our Arms
Darina Al-Joundi, Lebanese Actress and Author of “The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing
Deeyah, Music Composer and Filmmaker; most recent film “Banaz: A Love Story” about an honour killing
Elia Tabesh, Iranian Women in Support of Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society
Farzana Hassan, Writer
Fatou Sow, President of the Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
FEMEN
Fiammetta Venner, Filmmaker and Writer
Greta Christina, Writer and Blogger
Houzan Mahmoud, Spokesperson of Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Inna Shevchenko, FEMEN Spokesperson
International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning
Jacek Tabisz, President of Polish Rationalist Society
Joseph Paris, Radical Cinema
Kareem Amer, Egyptian Blogger
Kian Azar, Communist Youth Organisation
Marian Tudor, President of Romanian Association for Workers’ Emancipation
Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Sociologist and founder of Secularism is a Women’s Issue
Maryam Namazie, Campaigner and Spokesperson for Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran and initiator of Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson of International Committee against Stoning  and International Committee against Execution
Nadia El-Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker; most recent films “Neither Allah nor Master” and “Our Breasts; Our Arms
Nahla Mahmoud, Sudanese Researcher and Human Rights Activist
Nina Sankari, President of European Feminist Initiative Poland and Secularist
Richard Dawkins, Scientist
Rumy Hassan, Writer
Safia Lebdi, Co-founder of Neither Whores nor Submissives
Secularism is a Women’s Issue
Soad Baba Aïssa, Women’s Rights Campaigner
Sohaila Sharifi, Iranian Women’s Rights Campaigner
Sundas Hoorain, Pakistani Human Rights Lawyer
Tarek Fatah, Writer
Taslima Nasrin, Bangladeshi Writer

For more information on the International Day to Defend Amina, contact:

Maryam Namazie
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: maryamnamazie@gmail.com
web: http://www.maryamnamazie.com/
blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/

Inna Shevchenko
FEMEN
tel: +33605857180
e-mail: femen.ua@gmail.com
web: http://femen.org/en

Amina represents me

amina An Islamist preacher says 19 year old Tunisian Amina (FEMEN Tunisia) who posted a topless photo of herself bearing the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” deserves to be stoned to death. A lawyer has said she may face up to 2 years’ imprisonment and fines as a result of her topless activism.

Someone identifying herself as Amina’s aunt denounced Amina’s actions on Youtube saying: “I hope she pays for her actions. She does not represent her country or Tunisian women.”

Well, Amina represents me and countless other women across the Middle East, North Africa, and the world.

Adel Almi, president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, who called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death said Amina’s actions will bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…”

Of course it has and will just as those of FEMEN or Aliaa Magda El-Mahdy.

I suggest we pick a date for a global day of topless action led by FEMEN to show him and his Islamist brethren what a “disaster” women are for misogyny – Islamic or otherwise.

Neither Allah nor Master

NadiaElfani

Very often apostasy and blasphemy cases that are highlighted are of men though there are some well known atheist women from the Middle East and North Africa who have courageously challenged Islamism and defended secularism.

Everyone knows a few (very few) of them – like Taslima Nasreen, Mina Ahadi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

But there are some you may not know but must.

On the International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers I think it apt to mention Tunisian film-maker and activist Nadia El Fani. Her recent film “Ni Allah ni Maître” (Neither Allah nor Master) focuses on secularism in that country.

As a result of the film and her having openly declared her atheism, she has faced horrendous abuse and threats.

You can read more about her here.

There is a petition supporting her against Islamist threats here.

 

We cannot remain silent about Islamist attacks on Tunisia’s universities

The below statement has been initiated by Djemila Benhabib and Caroline Fourest and supported by myself, Mina Ahadi, Boualem Sansal, Taslima Nasreen, Shoukria Haïdar, Elisabeth Badinter, Elisabeth Roudinesco, Nadia Geerts and many others. Please sign on to it in the comments section below and I can forward it to Djemila:

The entire Tunisian university community has been living under grave tension since the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year. Serious incidents have taken place at the College of Humanities and Sciences in Sousse, the College of Commerce in La Manouba, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Kairouan, and the College of Theology in Tunis.

The worst attacks have occurred at the College of Arts and Letters in La Manouba, where Salafist militias are demanding that a prayer room be opened and that full veils be worn during all pedagogical activities, including exams!

Ever since November 28, 2011 this College has seen guerrilla warfare, led by a small group of female students (twelve at most) dressed in niqabs and supported by militant Salafists, who for the most part are not associated with the College. They are led by Mohamed Bakhti, a 27 year-old in his first year of history studies, a former member of an armed group of Tunisian Jihadists linked to Al-Qaïda and directly implicated in terrorist attacks on Tunisian soil in 2007.

The ultra-minority group has injected fear into the heart of the university community through the deceptive and perverse nature of their demands, actions and motives. Why insist that a prayer room be opened when a place of worship is available just a stone’s throw away from the campus? Why not respect the decision of the College’s Scientific Board, who has determined that wearing a full veil is incompatible with the basic requirements of personal safety and also contradictory to educational requirements?

The college’s dean, Habib Kazdaghli, has refused to give in to Salafist pressure. As a result of his decision and given the great solidarity within the university community, this small group has not hesitated to use extremely violent methods: paralyzing the college for nearly a month, occupying administrative sites, ousting the dean from his own office, holding him for several hours and threatening him with death; physically abusing teachers, students, employees and reporters.

Instead of assuring the safety of those within the academic establishment, Tunisian authorities turn a blind eye, thus allowing a deleterious climate to continue, a climate in which the arbitrary and the tyranny of totalitarian thought flourishes. Worse yet, the Department of Education and Scientific Research, directed by Moncef Ben Salem, a deputy of the Islamist Party Ennahda, has severely criticized the dean by affirming that Kazdaghli “has not done what he should have to resolve the problem peacefully and, furthermore, has political ambitions.”

We cannot remain silent in the face of this untenable situation. This is why we women, democrats working in different professional and paraprofessional realms, commend the heroic resistance of the teachers, students and employees of the academic institutions of Tunisia, and particularly pay tribute to the College of Arts and Letters in La Manouba and to Dean Habib Kazdaghli. We urge you to join us in expressing our steadfast solidarity with the Tunisian Committee for the Defense of University Values (Comité Tunisien de Défense des Valeurs Universitaires).