A German religious forum took an unexpected turn yesterday when three topless protesters had to be dragged out of the building. The Berlin Islam Week event, held in one of the city’s town halls, was stopped in its tracks by members of extreme protest group Femen, who charged into the hall with slogans attacking “religious oppression” and Sharia law daubed on their bodies.
Photographs from the moment the women were dragged out by policemen show a bemused-looking woman filming the event on her phone as unimpressed guests look on. Other images show the three on stage during a discussion, where speakers were confronted with the messages written on their bodies and also on banners which they waved above their heads while shouting.
Femen, which began in Eastern Europe, is notorious for using nudity to promote their message of female emancipation and protest against governments and organisations with which they disagree.
Berlin Islam Week is open to atheists and those of other religions as well as Muslims, according to promotional material, which describes the event as “an important part of inter-religious dialogue process”. The description says this year’s event aimed to “provide a platform for exchange and to strengthen dialogue” and mentioned talks with “religious, inter-religious , social and historical themes”.
Following the event, Femen posted a statement online which attacked the Muslim system of law and claimed that the event was part of a culture which “is responsible for many crimes”.
It said: “Femen is outraged that the city of Berlin offered a public platform and support to the community that openly spreads inhuman ideology and calls for violence and incitement… Femen calls western government [sic], do not ignore the fact that the violent form of Islam found its niche in the western democratic society. It operates in the parallel world in the midst of our society and is responsible for many crimes. We want to encourage all women to free themselves from patriarchal structures! You are worth as much as your fathers and brothers, you have a right to physical integrity, you have a right to make your own decisions, you have a right to self-determination, to love and freedom!”