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Amina Tyler, Tunisia’s ‘topless jihad’ activist, caught and under arrest

Amina Tyler, 19, was found in the midst of police scuffles with hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Shariah. (Photo via Femen France on Facebook)

After months of reportedly going into hiding, the outspoken Tunisian feminist who sparked a trend of “topless jihad” has been found and arrested by Tunisian authorities earlier this week and may be charged for conducting “provocative acts.”

Amina Tyler, 19, was found in the midst of police scuffles with hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Shariah in the central Tunisian city of Kairouan on Sunday.

Tyler previously described herself as a member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, which uses nudity in protests.

Witnesses said she allegedly scrawled “Femen” on the wall near the main mosque and may have intended to hang a banner on the building before an angry crowd gathered and started shouting at her to leave, according to The Associated Press.

Video posted by the Tunisian online Nawaat news site shows Tyler, with dyed blonde hair, clutching a banner and being hustled away by police and put into a van as residents chased her.

A local resident shouts at the camera: “She is dishonoring us. We will protect our town, but a dirty girl like her shouldn’t come among us.”

Mohammed Ali Aroui, the spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry, described her acts as provocative and said she was under investigation and may be charged for her behavior on Sunday. He added that he understood the angry reaction of local residents to her appearance.

The ministry had banned Ansar al-Shariah’s annual conference, citing it as a threat to security and public order, and sent 11,000 soldiers and police to prevent hardline Muslims, known as salafis, from entering Kairouan.

In March, Tyler posted pictures of her topless body with the phrase “my body is my own” scrawled on it, and she went into hiding after receiving death threats. Her family took her to stay with relatives outside the capital before she escaped and hid with friends.

A month later, Tyler had been trying to leave Tunisia, her former lawyer said after a video surfaced in which the woman recounted being drugged and given virginity tests by relatives.

“Free Amina” rallies held by bare-breasted Femen activists hit Paris last month as Tyler’s supporters feared she would soon face criminal prosecution.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 21 May 2013 KSA 09:31 - GMT 06:31
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