Nude Femen protest disrupts Quebec legislature
Security officers forcibly remove a Femen protester from the viewing gallery at the Quebec National Assembly in Quebec City, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (JEAN-FRANCOIS DESGAGNES/QMI Agency)
QUEBEC CITY - Three bare-breasted women barged into the public gallery during Question Period at the Quebec legislature Tuesday, calling for the crucifix to be taken down from the chamber wall.
They chanted "crucifix, decalisse" before security guards removed them. Decalisse is a French swear word invoking the name of a sacred offering bowl mentioned in the Old Testament.
Femen Quebec, a branch of the Ukrainian nudist protest group, claimed responsibility for the disruption.
"We say that the crucifix should not remain in the National Assembly," said Femen spokeswoman Morgane Mary Pouliot, referring to the legislature's official name.
"The crucifix is a symbol of great darkness," said Pouliot.
The crucifix was installed above the speaker's chair in 1936 under then-premier Maurice Duplessis, who ran Quebec when the Roman Catholic church exerted great influence in Quebec society.
Quebecers have since largely turned their backs on Catholicism.
Femen has burned and chainsawed crucifixes during previous protests in Europe. The feminist group is staunchly anti-religious.
Their Quebec protest was the latest response to the Parti Quebecois's proposed secularism charter that would ban "conspicuous" religious symbols from the public service.
The ban would not apply to the crucifix in the legislature, which is part of Quebec's "cultural heritage," according to the PQ.
In an apparent response, one of the Femen protesters had the words "heritage - museum" scrawled in black across her midsection.
Religious Quebecers, meanwhile, say the PQ's "charter of Quebec values" is discriminatory and they have held rallies to condemn the proposal.
-With files from Charles Lecavalier