Femen is in hot water after several of its members showed off their bare breasts to disrupt an annual May Day speech in Paris led by far-right French Front National leader (FN) Marine Le Pen, with the political party leader seeking legal action against the feminist activist group.
Three topless women from the feminist protest group, which started in Ukraine in 2008, interrupted Le Pen's speech at the Paris Opera House on Friday, mocking the politician with Nazi salutes, while wearing painted slogans on their chests that read "Heil Le Pen" and "Stop Fascism."
Video shows the activists marching onto the nearby balcony, unveiling a large banner that read "Heil Le Pen," and blowing a bullhorn to draw attention away from Marine Le Pen's speech. FN security men grabbed the Femen activists, who were later arrested.
"They will be forced to get dressed," Le Pen said amid the disruption.
Video also shows activists storming a flower wreath ceremony held by the FN party at the Joan of Arc statue earlier in the day. FN supporters had gathered and laid a wreath at the statue of the 15th century female French hero, who has become a nationalist symbol for the party, which was founded in 1972.
"Lots of surprises on this May 1," Le Pen told hundreds of FN supporters. "It's quite a paradox when you call yourself a feminist and try to disturb a tribute to Joan of Arc."
Inna Shevchenko, the leader of Femen, told VICE News that after the demonstrations, FN security forces allegedly broke into the hotel room of her fellow activists and arrested them. Shevchenko said she plans to file a lawsuit against FN over alleged violence toward the women during the incident.
"The people who broke into the room were FN security. They violently took away the activists without having a legal right to arrest," Shevchenko said. "We will complain against FN for violence."
It appears Le Pen is also seeking legal action, after the FN released a statement Friday saying that Le Pen would be filing her own lawsuit against the women's activist movement.
"Marine Le Pen has asked her attorney to file a formal complaint for willful violence and attempted violence (article 222.11 of the penal code) against Femen over the assault that occurred in front of the [Joan of Arc] statue and for interfering with the freedom to demonstrate (article 431.1)," the website stated.
Stop Top fascism !#FEMEN against NF pic.twitter.com/s66NSos28d
— FEMEN (@FEMEN_Movement) May 1, 2015
The activists were not the only ones to disrupt Le Pen's speech. Before the public appearance, her father, 86-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen, ascended onto the stage raising his fists, despite a party disciplinary action against him for anti-Semitic comments he made earlier this year calling the Nazi gas chambers a "detail of history." These comments were said in the context of reaffirming similar statements made by the FN founder in 1996, comments that saw him prosecuted and fined for inciting racial hatred. The elder Le Pen is set to go before a party disciplinary committee on Monday over the recent incident.
Marine Le Pen, who took control over the party in 2011, has made efforts to reshape the FN's image before the country's presidential elections in 2017. Tensions between Marine and her father were evident, as she did not give him a place on stage, nor did he march with his daughter.
The far-right political party, with its anti-immigration and anti-European Union stances, has gained momentum in elections across France in recent years. The political leader has attempted to focus her efforts on criticizing French President François Hollande over his management of economic issues and unemployment rates. She has also denounced Hollande's predecessor and likely future presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy. During her May Day appearance Le Pen promoted FN's political agenda, insisting that the party was "right about everything."
"They have allowed massive immigration to install itself in France. They have unpinned the Islamic fundamentalist grenade," Le Pen said. "We are right on everything."
femen, feminism, activism, marine le pen, france, may day, anti-immigration, jean-marie le pen, paris, europe, politics
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