Three European FEMEN activists who protested topless outside the Tunisian Palace of Justice have been sentenced to four months in prison in Tunisia. The two French women and one German are members of the protest group and were charged with indecency.
Their Tunisian lawyer, Souhaib Bohri, said:
The three Femen protesters are shocked by this sentence. The judge has given them each four months in prison for violating decency and modesty
The prison sentence was seen as harsh by many who thought that the women would be acquitted or fined and deported from the country.
The Femen France Facebook page responded to the verdict:
With this decision the Tunisian powers have shown us their own theocratic savagery and demonstrated to the whole world their neglect of international democratic conventions... the women's movement Femen will not leave its activists to rot in prison, it
calls on the world to stand up for the brave freedom fighters!
Update: EU Response
14th June 2013. See article
The European Union has said that the jail sentences handed down to three European feminist activists who staged a topless protest in Tunisia were too severe and
urged the Islamist-led government to reform its laws on freedom of expression. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said:
The EU is surprised by the severity of the judgment. To ensure ... freedom of expression, the EU underlines the need to revise laws inherited from the previous regimes, which can be used to restrict it.
The criticism seems a bit fake given that the UK has jailed the Naked Rambler for more than 6 years.
27th June 2013. See article
A court in Tunisia has freed three European feminists jailed for staging a topless protest, their lawyer has said. Bahri Souhaib said their sentences had been suspended, and that they would leave Tunisia as soon as possible.
The women - Pauline Hillier, Marguerite Stern and Josephine Markmann - argued that there had been nothing sexual or offensive about their protest, the first of its kind seen in the Arab world.
I didn't think it was going to shock Tunisians to that extent. Given the consequences, I would never do it again. We want to return to our country and our loved ones, Ms Hillier told the court on Wednesday.