Mona Eltahawy was arrested in a New York subway station on Tuesday, after she decided to use spray paint to obscure an advert. The Egyptian-American writer is seen in a pink coat, holding a can of pink spray paint in a New York Post video.
The advert in question read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel defeat Jihad.”
Eltahawy was spraying over the advert when a woman approached her with a camera, asking her if she had the right to do such a thing. “I do actually, I think it is freedom of expression just as this [ad] is freedom of expression,” Eltahawy replied.
Within seconds the lady, who identified herself in the video as Pamela Hall, position herself between Eltahawy and the advert. Eltahawy then told her to get out of her way several times, telling her that she should move if she does not want to get sprayed.
After about two minutes of the verbal altercation, two police officers arrived and arrested Eltahawy. She asked them several times why she was being arrested. She then cried out to onlookers that she had not hurt anyone and that she was only engaging in non-violent protest. One of the officers told her that she could have injured the lady.
Before going ahead with her attempts to deface the advert, Eltahawy had sent out messages on Twitter, announcing what she was planning to do and criticising the adverts and the woman behind them, Pam Geller.
Following the incident, Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugs, carried a statement saying that “Islamic supremacist journalist Mona Eltahawy” had been arrested after assaulting a woman who caught her vandalising an American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) pro-Israel advert. Geller is the executive director of AFDI.
The controversial AFDI adverts were placed in ten subway stations on Monday after a judge decided that barring them would violate the first amendment. Most of the adverts had been defaced by Tuesday morning. According to the New York Post, the ads cost AFDI $6,000 each. Geller told ABC News, that “any war on civilians is savagery.”
Eltahawy was charged with a criminal mischief misdemeanour and spent the night in detention. She is expected to be released after a court appearance without having to pay bail. While many people sent messages of support to Eltahawy over Twitter, many others did not show sympathy and considered her actions no more than a cry for media attention.