• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Femen due in court over topless Notre Dame stunt

Dan MacGuill · 13 Sep 2013, 09:59

Published: 13 Sep 2013 09:59 GMT+02:00

The members of Femen, which started in Ukraine but is now based in Paris, face charges of “desecration of a place of worship” and "desecration of sacred objects.”

The women entered the Gothic cathedral on February 12th, dressed in long coats which they whipped off inside while ringing three bells near the altar.

"Pope no more!" they cried. "No more homophobe" and "Bye bye Benedict!"

The protesters were dragged out of the cathedral by security guards but remained outside for some time shouting "In gay we trust" and "Get out homophobe."

Authorities at the Paris landmark were dismayed by the behaviour of the women.

“They mounted the podium where three of our new bells were being displayed for the 850th anniversary of the cathedral,” Jacquin told Metro France at the time.

“They damaged the bell called Denis, knocking off its gold leaf.”

“This unspeakable raid was incredibly violent and the children who were there at the time were left in shock,” Jacquin said.


Femen members gather outside Notre Dame cathedral after their demonstration inside. Photo: Vivien Hoch.

Femen's Ukraine-born leader, Inna Shevchenko, however, has denied members of the group did damage to any bells, and denounced the accusations as "nothing more than another way in which the Church can try to punish blasphemy."

February’s spontaneous demonstration wasn’t the last by Femen at Notre Dame cathedral.

In May, one member forced the evacuation of the tourist attraction by staging a theatrical mock suicide on the altar, a day after far-right historian Dominique Venner shot and killed himself in the church.

Here is a video of the event, which features partial nudity and simulated suicide in a place of worship, and may offend some readers.

Femen has been making headlines since 2010 for topless feminist, pro-democracy and anti-corruption protests in Russia, Ukraine and London.

After celebrating the departure of the pope, the activists were caught on video targeting French President François Hollande on his arrival at the Paris air show in June.

Despite that, however, the group’s leader, Inna Schevchenko was granted political asylum in France in July.

The 23-year-old said she feared persecution in her native Ukraine after she sawed down a large wooden cross that stood in the centre of Kiev.

Story continues below…

Last year, members of the group dressed up as nuns to try to sabotage an anti-gay marriage protest in Paris.

The women ripped off their 'habits' to reveal comments scrawled on their naked chests such as "In gay we trust" and "Fuck the church".

Catholic group Civitas then sued the group for “sexual exhibitionism” in front of children, as well as protesting illegally and insulting a religious group by mocking their appearance.

Below is a video of Femen’s “celebration” at Notre Dame cathedral after the resignation of Pope Benedict. It contains partial nudity in a place of worship that some readers may find offensive.

Don't miss today's verdict, or stories like this - join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion - French schools
Ten ways France must fix its 'failing' school system
What must France do to fix its school system? Photo: AFP

As pupils head back to the classroom this week, Peter Gumbel, a Paris-based British journalist and author of a best-selling critique of the French school system, spells out for The Local how France must fix a national education system in crisis.

16 things you almost certainly didn't know about France
One of the most famous roundabouts in the land of roundabouts. Photo: Amy Anderson/Flickr

Here are 16 facts from the brand new trivia book "F is for France". Did you know any of them? Be honest now.

Burqini row
Bretons bathe fully clothed as Muslim asked to leave beach
Photo: Screen shot/Ouest France

Protesters in Brittany take to the sea fully clothed after video emerges of a veil-wearing Muslim woman being asked to leave the beach in Nice, despite France's top court ruling burqini-bans are illegal.

American businessman to take over French club Marseille
Photo: AFP

The former owner of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team is set to become the new owner of troubled French football club Marseille.

Why expats are still happy about life in France
Photo: Dennis Jarvis/FLickr

Despite the fear over the heightened risk of terror attacks, expats are still very much content with the quality of life in France, a new survey has shown. Although there are drawbacks as well as positives.

Calais camp 'to pass 10,000' as UK warned over border
Photos: AFP

The camp's population has more than doubled since June, police say, as French politicians again call for the border deal with the UK to be torn up.

Parisians ignore 1923 ban to take the plunge in waterway
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: See Parisians take to the biggest swimming pool in the city.

Paris restaurant owner tells Muslim women to leave
Photo: AFP

Then says sorry after provoking outrage.

British man dies in France after trying to swim Channel
Photo Kondol/ Flickr

A British man's attempt to swim to France ended in tragedy.

French anti-burqini law would create 'irreparable tension'
Photo: AFP

A law banning the controversial burqini swim wear in France would be "unconstitutional" the French interior minister has warned and would create "irreparable tension".

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
2,753
jobs available