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French stamp with likeness of activist sparks controversy

Published: Wed, July 17, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press


The new face of France — or at least the official postage stamp for the President Francois Hollande era — is modeled after a Ukrainian woman who takes her top off to defend feminist causes.

Not everyone thinks that’s appropriate, and some are calling for a boycott.

Hollande on Sunday unveiled the new stamp, meant to represent Marianne, a symbol of France since the revolution and French youth. Afterward, artist Olivier Ciappa said the image was modeled largely after Inna Shevchenko, an activist with the group Femen who received political asylum in France.

Hollande’s office would not comment on whether the president, a Socialist who has pushed for more women’s rights, knew about the Femen inspiration.

An official in Hollande’s presidential palace said the image was chosen by a panel of young people from a selection of sketches. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to presidential policy.

Ciappa described his choice as an homage to the idea of Marianne, who is meant to symbolize liberty and reason and is sometimes depicted topless.

The small, conservative Christian Democrat Party is calling for a boycott of the stamp. On their website and on Twitter, the party said the postal service should withdraw the stamp, saying it “insults the dignity of women, the sovereignty of France.”

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