On Tuesday, a court in the Tunisian city of Kairouan convicted a feminist activist with carrying a can of pepper spray given to her by a journalist.
Amina Sboui, also known as Amina Tyler and a member of the feminist group Femen, was arrested on May 19 while staging a protest. She was charged with carrying an “incendiary device” – a can of pepper spray a journalist gave her to protect herself in Tunisia’s conservative climate. She was convicted and fined $182. Sboui remains in custody pending further charges of desecrating a cemetery and offending public decency, which could carry penalties of two years and six months in jail respectively.
Sboui generated outrage in her community when she posted topless photos of herself with “My body is my own” written on her torso as part of a Femen protest earlier this year. After receiving death threats, Sboui went into hiding but reappeared in the city of Kairouan. In Kairouan, she was arrested after allegedly painting “Femen” on a cemetery wall near the city’s primary mosque. Police arrived as a mob formed around her.
Three other members of Femen have been arrested for staging a topless protest in front of a courthouse as they called for Sboui’s release. The three activists will have an open hearing in court on June 5 on charges of public indecency and attack on public morals. If convicted they could face six months in jail for each charge.