Support Mona Eltahawy

I follow Mona Eltahawy on Twitter and she comes across as a smart, committed and principled woman.

She is on trial for, justifiably in my opinion, defacing a bigoted poster.

I have covered this before, these posters were instigated by Pam Geller, who readers will remember is a great supporter of the EDL and is trying to raise money for its jailed leader, Stephen Lennon.

Ms. Eltahawy was arrested in September 2012 and held for some 22 hours.

The Guardian reports:

“Writer and activist Mona Eltahawy appeared in court on Thursday on charges of criminal mischief for spray-painting an anti-Muslim poster in a New York City subway station.

Eltahawy was offered a plea deal but chose to go to trial for charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti and possession of an instrument of graffiti.

“I actually look forward to standing trial, because I acted out of principle and I’m proud of what I did and I will spray-paint that ad again in a second,” Eltahawy told the Guardian.

Eltahawy was arrested in September for spray-painting a poster paid for by the Anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative. The posters appeared in 10 New York subway stations and read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” and “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Following her arrest, Eltahawy was held in jail for 22 hours, longer than her detention in Egypt during the Arab spring. During the protests, she suffered two broken bones during arrest by Egyptian riot police.

Eltahawy said she was treated fairly in court proceedings but she and her lawyer believe her 22 hours overnight in jail were unjust.

“I don’t think I was treated fairly overall, because one of the points my attorney is making and has requested paperwork to look into is why four other people who were arrested with me that same night – who put stickers on an ad at another subway station – why they received DATs [Desk Appearance Tickets] and were sent home and I spent the night in jail.”

I hope she gets off and that these awful posters are taken down.

6 comments

  1. I think they were bigoted if possibly not technically racist. They were lawful, so she was breaking the law, I suppose. Perhaps most useful to nail exactly why they are bigoted and also to point out the ways in which bigotry impacts on American Muslims.

  2. Legality doesn’t absolve bigotry or racism.

    In 1960s America there was plenty of legal racism, but people chose to protest it, and rightly so.

  3. The posters were not written to communicate some subtle message.

    Geller & co-authors presumably wrote them to stab out a crude message and I object to that message.

    I am not governed by the first Amendment, nor are people’s objections. Geller and her fellow bigots are free to put up posters and people are free to defaced them.

    I think Mona Eltahawy’s action were commendable, I just wish more would stand up to this pernicious bigotry from Geller.

  4. I don’t feel on top of the arguments as to whether or nots the ads should be allowed, within US law – but I think there is at least a case to be made that they should be allowed, offensive though they are. I’m not sure vandalising them was the right response, although I certainly dont hold it against ME that she chose to do so. I think a bigger problem than the posters is the way in which anti-Muslim insinuations were so common in the tabloids a few years ago. It’s my sense things have improved slightly in that respect, but I think it’s been a real problem because people are far more influenced (I think) by that kind of drip feed of half truths and exaggerations than by an aggressive poster campaign.

  5. “whether or nots the ads should be allowed, within US law”

    New York tried to reject them but legally they are allowed in America.

    However,that spectacularly misses the point, America’s history is full of legalised racism, and merely because something complies with the law does not mean that it isn’t racist or morally repugnant.

    I think if someone tried to put up a defamatory poster concerning *other* ethnic minorities, then action against those posters would be taken.

    Even accepting first the Amendment, people are not bound to ignore them. They can accept that someone has the right to put them up and they can deface them. Those notions are not mutually exclusive.

    Agreed, anti-Muslim sentiment has significantly increased over the years, which is why anyone who comments in that area should be extra careful. Further, they should make clear their opposition to anti-Muslim bigots, etc

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