Published On: Wed, Jun 17th, 2015

Madrid council ‘indignado’ Rita Maestre under fire for topless church protest

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Calls for resignation of Ahora Madrid councillor who took part in 2011 demonstration against Catholic church’s interventions in women’s issues

Rita Maestre, a new member of Madrid’s city council, was involved in a 2011 protest where women went topless inside a chapel. Supplied Photograph: Supplied

Rita Maestre, a new member of Madrid’s city council, was involved in a 2011 protest where women went topless inside a chapel. Supplied Photograph: Supplied

A second member of Madrid’s new leftwing city council has faced calls to resign over her role in a demonstration by semi-naked protesters in a chapel.

Rita Maestre, 27, became embroiled in the controversy four days after taking up her post as a council spokeswoman for the Ahora Madrid group, which was born out of the “indignado” (outraged) protest movement.

Spanish media said protesters burst into the chapel in Madrid’s Complutense University and that some took their tops off and yelled anti-Vatican and women’s rights slogans, including “Get your rosaries out of our ovaries.”

The Socialist party, which shares power with Ahora Madrid in the city, called for Maestre to resign over the protest in a university chapel in 2011. “If you are facing charges you have to step back and stand aside until the verdict,” said the Socialists’ spokesman Antonio Miguel Carmona.

Maestre told La Sexta television that the church protest was “a peaceful demonstration” about “secularism and women’s rights”.

A spokeswoman for Ahora Madrid confirmed that a court was examining a case against Maestre and that prosecutors had called for her to be given a one-year jail sentence.

“This in no way disqualifies Rita for the job,” the spokeswoman told AFP. “There are many activists among our candidates and we do not think it is something punishable.”

On Monday the group’s cultural affairs commissioner Guillermo Zapata resigned from his post after it emerged he had repeated jokes about the Holocaust on Twitter in 2011.

Zapata said his jokes had been prompted by a debate on the limits of humour and were taken out of context.

Ahora Madrid took control of Madrid city hall last week after elections that ended 24 years of rule by Spain’s governing conservative Popular party.

Ahora Madrid campaigned against corruption and social inequality. Former judge Manuela Carmena is the capital’s new mayor.

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