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France

Femen trial over Notre Dame protest adjourned

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-14

The trial of nine women from the topless protest movement Femen over charges of damaging Notre Dame cathedral during a demonstration was adjourned till February.

Nine activists from the topless women’s protest movement Femen will face court again in February over charges that they damaged Notre Dame cathedral during a demonstration earlier this year, a Paris judge ruled on Friday. The women deny the accusations.

On February 12, Femen activists, who had previously alerted news agencies, hid in the lines of tourists streaming into the historic cathedral before perching on the base of three new bells temporarily placed in the nave.

The bare-breasted women shouted “No more Pope” while clanging the bells with wooden sticks. Their chests and backs were emblazoned with the messages “No homophobes” and "Bye-bye Benedict”.

The protest came shortly after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy.

It also coincided with a debate in the French National Assembly on same-sex marriage. Later that day, the Assembly approved a draft law on gay marriage.

The Femen activists also chanted "In gays we trust" after being forcibly evicted from the building. During a scuffle with security guards who were trying to remove them, one activist broke a tooth.

At the end of the court hearing  on Friday, the judge remanded the case pending an investigation into the allegations. The case is set to resume on February 19, 2014.

Claim cathedral bell damaged

During the hearing, Patrick Klugman, the lawyer for the Femen activists, said the guards were violent and that his clients were in fact the victims.

He also denied  that the women had damaged a cathedral bell, called the “Marcel bell” after Saint Marcel. He claimed it could have been damaged by the Notre Dame security guards. Laurent Delvolvé, lawyer for the president of Notre Dame, denied this.
The Ukranian activist group has called the accusations “nothing more than a trial of the church to punish us for blasphemy" and likened it to a Catholic “witch hunt”.

The protest at Notre Dame earlier this year sparked outrage among French politicians. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls expressed dismay over the “unnecessary provocation” while Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, himself openly gay, said he was sad about "an act which caricatures the beautiful struggle for gender equality”.


(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

 

Date created : 2013-09-13

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