PARIS A small group of French activists have organized an Internet campaign to send roses to the woman who has accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in New York.
At www.une-rose-pour-ophelia.fr, well-wishers are invited to "Offer a rose to Ophelia," a nickname for the 32-year-old chambermaid who has accused Strauss-Kahn of attacking her.
Her claims and his subsequent arrest last week set off an international firestorm, prompting the prominent economist's resignation from the IMF and dashing his hopes of running for the French presidency in 2012.
French feminists have accused public figures and the media of showing more concern for Strauss-Kahn than the maid -- whose accusations that he locked her in a bathroom and forced himself on her -- have led to charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.
"Dear Ophelia, a rose to forgive us for not thinking enough of you," reads the statement on the website, which has attracted enough clicks since its launch Saturday to send some 400 roses to the woman, who is in protective custody in New York.
"We have talked a lot about our countryman, his detention, his emotions, and not enough about yours. That's why, without presuming a ruling yet to be handed down and respecting the presumption of innocence, we send you these flowers," it says.
Saturday, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Paris against what they said was a flood of misogynist commentary from public figures. [nLDE74K069]
The website's organizers -- a small group of political activists with libertarian views called "Les Liberaux" -- will send the roses to the office of the woman's lawyer at the end of the week. The website clicks are free, and all costs will be assumed by the organizers.
Businessman and attorney Didier Salavert, one of the group's members, said that at stake in the Strauss-Kahn affair is the voice of the individual against more powerful interests.
"Power in France is very clannish," he said. "Where is the freedom of speech here?"
(Editing by Paul Casciato)