Tunisian who sparked ‘topless jihad’ is back … and blonde

When Amina Tyler, a 19-year-old Tunisian activist, posted topless photographs of herself on Facebook in March, she caused a global uproar. The tremendous backlash within Tunisia to the images — which included one of Amina topless, hair short and black, with the words, "Fuck your morals" splashed across her chest — quickly spilled beyond the ...

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

When Amina Tyler, a 19-year-old Tunisian activist, posted topless photographs of herself on Facebook in March, she caused a global uproar. The tremendous backlash within Tunisia to the images -- which included one of Amina topless, hair short and black, with the words, "Fuck your morals" splashed across her chest -- quickly spilled beyond the country's borders as the feminist protest movement Femen, declared a "topless jihad" in her defense.

But while Amina's name exploded onto the international scene, she herself largely disappeared from the public eye. In April, Amina told Femen's leader, Inna Shevchenko, over Skype that she had been kidnapped by her family, beaten, drugged, and subjected to a virginity test. She also admitted that she had been coerced into doing an interview with the French station Itele in which she declared she didn't want to be associated with Femen. "I will continue the struggle that started in Tunisia," Amina declared during the Skype conversation. I will do a topless protest and then I will leave."

But as recently as May 1, there was still confusion over the whereabouts of the activist. In the Atlantic, Jeffrey Taylor described her as "in hiding" somewhere in the North African country.

When Amina Tyler, a 19-year-old Tunisian activist, posted topless photographs of herself on Facebook in March, she caused a global uproar. The tremendous backlash within Tunisia to the images — which included one of Amina topless, hair short and black, with the words, "Fuck your morals" splashed across her chest — quickly spilled beyond the country’s borders as the feminist protest movement Femen, declared a "topless jihad" in her defense.

But while Amina’s name exploded onto the international scene, she herself largely disappeared from the public eye. In April, Amina told Femen’s leader, Inna Shevchenko, over Skype that she had been kidnapped by her family, beaten, drugged, and subjected to a virginity test. She also admitted that she had been coerced into doing an interview with the French station Itele in which she declared she didn’t want to be associated with Femen. "I will continue the struggle that started in Tunisia," Amina declared during the Skype conversation. I will do a topless protest and then I will leave."

But as recently as May 1, there was still confusion over the whereabouts of the activist. In the Atlantic, Jeffrey Taylor described her as "in hiding" somewhere in the North African country.

On Wednesday, however, the young dissident finally reappeared with another topless photo posted to the Femen Facebook page. So far, the image has generated a number of headlines in the Arabic press but virtual silence in the U.S. media. This time she was blonde, and the words scrawled on her chest were in bright red instead of black. But the message was essentially the same: "No More Moral Lessons."

Marya Hannun is a Ph.D. student in Arabic and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter at: @mrhannun.

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