Region | Palestinian Territories

Topless feminists to protest in Bethlehem

Femen activists to demonstrate in Palestine during Christmas season

  • By Nasouh Nazzal, Correspondent
  • Published: 16:20 November 27, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • An activist from the women’s movement Femen is dragged away by a police officer while they protest near a demonstration against the abortion in Madrid, Spain.

Ramallah: Topless feminist activists will hold protests at the community garden of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem on December 24, but intend to delay announcing the aim of the protest until the protest occurs.

Femen, the topless feminist protest group, is coming to Bethlehem in the West Bank next month to participate in Christmas celebrations and the group’s possible visit to the Palestinian territories has raised high concerns among Palestinians and Muslim parties.

A number of international sources have recently revealed that several topless feminist activists will arrive in Bethlehem next month during the Christmas season to organise a topless protests at the community garden of the Nativity Church. These sources claim the protest will be against violence and unfairness and to highlight the activists’ “right” to demonstrate and express opinions.

The possible visit of Femen activists to Palestine has provoked Islamist Palestinian parties which have announced that such a visit to Palestine for such a protest “will not be possible and will never happen”.

“Palestine is a holy and blessed area which will never be sullied by those atheist women,” the Muslim activist told Gulf News. “This issue should not be discussed in the first place. There is no room for those women in Palestine. This should be realised and taken as a matter of fact.”

Islamic factions in northern areas of the West Bank have already addressed this issue with their colleagues in southern areas of the West Bank including Bethlehem and Hebron. The official stressed that the protest remains so far a rumour and that the parties in Palestine do not want to make it an issue.

“If the visit is confirmed and the women arrive in Palestine, action against this visit will be taken,” he said.

Vera Baboun, mayor of Bethlehem, has categorically rejected any kind of protests by topless feminist activists in the city. “Any protest that does not observe Palestinian customs and traditions and which violates public decency is unwelcome,” she said in a statement.

“Any protest to be organised in Bethlehem needs an official permit,” she stressed.

Femen is an exhibitionist feminist protest group based in Paris that originated in Ukraine, having been founded there in 2008. Femen activists claim their nude protests allegedly fight against patriarchy and gender inequality.

Baboun said that activists from the Femen group will visit the Palestinian territories next month to organize topless protests on December 24, and that will coincide with the Christmas celebrations. She said that Femen will announce the cause of the protest in Palestine during the protest itself.

A senior official at the Palestinian security apparatus said the Palestinian security in Bethlehem has not received the relevant instructions about the possible visit.

“Our final opinion about this is that we can not allow such topless protests in Palestine. If any such protest was organised, the security organisations will be held responsible from the Palestinian public perspective,” he told Gulf News.

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