Mona Eltahawy arrested but was it freedom of speech or 15-minutes of fame?
Outspoken Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy was arrested in New York yesterday after peacefully demonstrating against controversial pro-Israel posters in the Subway.
Her attempts to exercise her own 'freedom of speech' turned into a bizarre war of words when a bystander objected to Eltahawy spray painting one of the signs. The Egyptian activist spent last night in jail.
The notorious American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) were behind the posters that many critics have called 'Islamophobic'. The message could hardly have been clearer: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Never one to shy away from defending Arab rights or from media attention, Eltahawy, 45, launched a single handed protest against the campaign. But, in stark contrast to the violent Arab demonstrations that have hit headlines in recent weeks, Eltahawy was armed only with a can of pink spray-paint and, of course, her voice.
A video released by the New York Post shows the liberal Muslim calmly spraying over the poster when she is interrupted by Pamela Hall, a middle-aged American stranger unimpressed with Eltahawy's attempts to "violate free speech."
Hall throws herself into the line of fire becoming a human-shield for the poster. "That's right! Defend racism," Eltahawy says.
As police arrive at the scene, she turns to the camera and explains: "This is non-violent protest, see this America…I'm an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate."
Vandalizing the AFDI's $6,000 poster earned Eltahaway a night in a police cell and an appearance in court today under charges of criminal mischief.
This is not the first time that her views on the Arab world have caused controversy. Her opinions on women's rights - or rather the "pulsating heart of misogyny in the Middle East" - have won and lost her support in equal measure, with some deeming her flirty media personality and sweeping criticisms as a denial of her Arab roots. Some have gone even further, blaming Eltahawy in part for misrepresenting Muslims and stirring more prejudice in the West.
After her arrest yesterday, Eltahwy asked tweeps to get behind her: "If you're on Twitter, tweet that Mona Eltahawy was arrested." Since then the social networking site has been filled with support for the activist, with users demanding her release with #freemona.
But, not everyone was convinced that her protest was in earnest. One rumor, spread online, said that she knew she would be arrested from the outset and had organized the hash tag in advance casting her fight for freedom of speech as nothing more than a publicity stunt.
So, what do you think - Was it a fight against Islamophobia or a fight for personal exposure? Leave us your comments!
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