Bethlehem braces for naked Christmas protest by Femen

Riot policemen arrest FEMEN group activists with body painting (R) reading 'abortion is sacred' as a Pro-Life demonstration is arriving at Alcala Street on November 17, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.
Riot policemen arrest FEMEN group activists with body painting (R) reading ‘abortion is sacred’ as a Pro-Life demonstration is arriving at Alcala Street on November 17, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.
Credit: Getty Images

Thousands of visitors flock to Bethlehem each Christmas to celebrate in the birthplace of Jesus Christ. But this year, the holy city will receive unwelcome guests as radical feminist group Femen intends to stage a controversial protest.

Activists have indicated a topless demonstration will take place on Christmas Eve in the garden of the Church of the Nativity, site of Christ’s birth according to the Christian faith. This would coincide with the peak of celebrations, with up to 100,000 expected to travel to the Palestinian city.

Femen founder Inna Shevchenko would not confirm the action but told Metro: “Bethlehem can be a place for us to attack. This city can see the rebellious naked breasts of Femen.”

Shevchenko rejected any obligation to respect cultural sensitivities in the deeply religious city. “We respect our naked war against oppression and if there are cultures that are not able to coexist with that idea, [that] means those cultures are anti-humanist and don’t deserve respect from us.”

The Ukrainian group have enjoyed a recent surge, with a new branch established in Israel this year and a series of high profile stunts, including a live TV attack on global football authority FIFA. Femen has also acted to distance itself from Victor Svyatski, a founding member filmed making sexist remarks.

Having already protested in Tunisia, the threat is being taken seriously by Bethlehem authorities and its mayor Vera Baboun. “This cannot happen in the birthplace of Jesus,” her spokesperson said. “It would destroy the spirit of Christmas and we are working with intelligence and security to prevent their action.”

Local activists and businesses have also stated fierce opposition to Femen plans, and the reaction on social media has been hostile. “Maybe the aim of the protest is to unite Palestinians and Israelis against them,” one user posted.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…