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Femen activists in Paris court over Notre Dame protest

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Femen in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Nine women from the bare-breasted political protest movement Femen are in a Paris court today on charges of damaging Notre Dame Cathedral during a demonstration earlier this year.


The activists from the Ukraine-based group with chapters worldwide and its second base in Paris set off into the famed cathedral in mid-February after alerting media. They slipped passed a flurry of tourists before staging themselves on the base of three new bells placed in the nave.

The activists rang the bells with wooden sticks and showed messages such as “Bye-bye Benedict” and “No homophobes” scrawled across their unclothed chests as they shouted “No more pope”.

Femen has taken off their tops for a range of causes, and in many cities. They have called for a “topless jihad” and a “women’s spring” to overhaul Islam’s treatment of women, decried female circumcision in Africa at the Berlin Film Festival, and denounced income inequality at the World Economic Forum.

The protest in Paris came shortly after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy, and coincided with the debate on same-sex marriage in the French National Assembly.

A lawyer for Femen, Patrick Klugman, a lawyer for Femen, called the charges an "artificial procedure” and said his clients are unaware of what could come next, whether it be a fine or a jail sentence.