TUNIS, TUNISIA—Sandwiched between Algeria and Libya on the North African coast, Tunisia appears ideally placed to receive the Sicilian "football" if Italy's boot ever kicks it. In the meantime, however, it'll just have to bide its time threatening women with death for posting topless images of themselves online—and starting a worldwide movement called International Topless Jihad Day.
The facts are these: Nineteen-year-old Tunisian resident Amina Tyler recently founded her country's chapter of the Ukranian-based feminist/women's rights organization Femen, and in response to all the misogyny and dismissal of women's views so common in countries whose predominant religion is Islam, she posted some photos of herself topless, with slogans like "Fuck Your Morals" and, in Arabic, "My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone's honor" inscribed on her chest, the latter image showing her <gasp!> smoking a cigarette!
That didn't sit too well with the Tunisian government's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, whose leader, Almi Adel, opined in the Tunisian daily Assabah News, "The young lady should be punished according to Sharia [Islamic law], with 80 to 100 lashes, but [because of] the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves to be stoned to death."
And why would that be?
"This young woman, for her actions, could bring misfortune and provoke epidemics and catastrophes," Adel declared. "It could be contagious and give ideas to other women. Therefore, she must be isolated," though he added, "I wish her to be healed."
In response, Islamic hackers targeted the FEMEN Tunisia Facebook page, writing on it, "Thanks to God we have hacked this immoral page and the best is to come. God willing, these dirt will disappear from Tunisia."
This, in a country whose draft constitution, still the subject of controversy, describes women as being "complementary to men," even though in the 1950s, Tunisia "stipulated equality of the sexes."
Fortunately, not everyone thought that was a good idea (the killing, not the healing), and they quickly rallied around the freedom fighter, who had disappeared from public view shortly after the postings, but apparently is now safe in her parents' home—and not committed to a mental institution as some had earlier reported.
Actions in support of Tyler have included a petition on Change.org aimed at keeping her safe and promoting an International Day to Defend Amina, also scheduled for April 4. The petition was signed by "40 prominent artists, writers, organizations, and members of the media, including Richard Dawkins, the scientist and atheist activist."
But leave it to FEMEN, the five-year-old feminist organization that has organized topless protests against, among others, Russian president Vladimir Putin for his dictatorial tactics, and Silvio Berlusconi, then Italy's prime minister, convicted tax evader and popularizer of the coital euphemism "bunga-bunga."
"This day [April 4] will mark the beginning of a new, genuine Arab Spring, after which true freedom, freedom without mullahs and caliphs, will come to Tunisia," a spokesperson for FEMEN said. "Long live the topless jihad against infidels! Our tits are deadlier than your stones!"
Already, thousands of women have bared their chests on Facebook and other sites, the images emblazoned with messages of protest and support. Certainly, some members of the adult entertainment industry will want to get in on that action as well, either on their own sites, on Twitter, Instagram, or even on FEMEN's own site.
Let's hear it for Titslamism! Long live the revolution!