An Egyptian activist, Mona Eltahawy, was arrested yesterday in a New York City subway station as she was in the middle of spray-painting over pro-Israeli ads–and seeming to partially paint over a Manhattan mom who tried to shield the ads by standing in front of them. Eltahawy was charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, and possession of a graffiti instrument.
Most of the controversial ads, placed in ten New York City subway stations by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, have been defaced. The ad equates Islamic jihad with “savagery.” The MTA had originally rejected that ads, but a court ruled that they must be displayed.
In the video below, Eltahawy can be heard saying as she defaced the ads, “Get off me or I’m going to go get the police….Get out of my way, I’m not going to stop it….You sound like a parody.” Elthaway defended herself to the woman by saying it was her “freedom of expression” to deface the advertisements:
A policeman comes up to her as she is in the middle of spray-painting the billboard, and tells her she is under arrest. She then says, “I’m expressing myself freely,” and then “this is what happens to nonviolent protesters in America in 2012…she got in my way!” Earlier in the day, Eltahawy tweeted her intentions:
At a suburban New York train station, they have been having their own “billboard war,” kicked off in July when the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine first placed ads that were anti-Israel.
Once again the meaning of freedom of speech is being debated as people seek not only to express political beliefs through advertising, but some believe defacing property is another form of free speech. Continue to follow Eltahawy’s experience in learning the legal meaning of free speech by reading her tweets, where she is documenting events as they happen.DONATE
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