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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Mona Eltahawy’

MTA Sneaks In Free Speech Restrictions, Bypassing Court Ruling Favoring Anti-Jihad Ad

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

In what many, including legal scholar Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, call “unconstitutional” restrictions on free speech, the board of the New York City Transportation Authority unanimously passed a new set of regulations governing the kinds of advertisements it will accept. The MTA is now empowered to ban any ad the  MTA

reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.

The new regulations also require disclaimers to be included in any political, religious or morality-based ads, stating  that they do not represent the views of the MTA.

These new regulations were announced on Thursday, September 27, just three days after the American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were put up after a lengthy and costly court battle brought by AFDI and its executive and associate directors, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to enforce their First Amendment right to free speech.  That ad appears in 10 subway stations in the New York subway system.  It reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

The spokesman for the MTA, Aaron Donovan, admitted to a reporter from The Blaze that the changes came in response to AFDI’s anti-Jihad ads and the ensuing litigation.

Initial reports were that commuters were passing by the ads without any noticeable responses, but apparently there were complaints that instilled fear in MTA board members.

There was at least one widely publicized attack against the ad, engaged in by Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy. That attack was motivated by the woman, who has only been a U.S. citizen for one year.  Eltahawy claimed that her acts of criminal vandalism, which were caught on videotape by The New York Post, were legitimate acts of free speech and non-violent protest.

Eltahawy was arrested and charged with various offenses.  When she was released from prison the next day, Eltahawy was critical of her time in jail.  However, Eltahawy  neglected to mention that when she was detained by Egyptian police during the Arab Spring uprisings, her arm and her wrist were broken and she claimed the police repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her.

The newly-elected Egyptian president, former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, instructed the Egyptian Consul General, Zousef Zada, to monitor Eltahawy’s case.

The New York Times reported on the new restrictions, without any comment regarding the potentially unconstitutional regulations.

Instead, the venerable leader against the assault on the First Amendment – The New York Times - merely reported the outlandish statements made at a press conference announcing the changes, by the MTA chairman, Joseph J. Lhota.   “We’ve gotten to the point where we needed to take action today,” Lhota said, in what must have been a reference to anger directed at the anti-Jihad ads, “You deal with a free speech issue with more free speech.”   Like Eltahawy, Lhota appears to believe that free speech includes official action taken to restrict free speech.

The MTA may hope it has avoided a First Amendment challenge because its restriction is “viewpoint neutral.” This is because the new regulation does not overtly single out any special group or groups for special treatment, which was the fatal flaw pointed out by Judge Englemayer in his July 20 ruling which forced the MTA to finally post them, after a year-long delay caused by their rejection of that ad on grounds determined to be unconstitutional.

The new restriction is sure to inspire potent legal challenges on other constitutional grounds.  For example, can one “reasonably foresee” what kind of ad will “incite violence” or a “breach of the peace”?  A legal challenge on numerous grounds should be anticipated, as predicted by Dershowitz in an interview with The Algemeinerin which he referred to the new rules as not only “unconstitutional,” but also “plain dumb.”

And to argue that ads, such as the anti-Jihad ones, will incite violence, whereas the pro-Israel ones would not, because they did not, might lead to an argument underscoring the point of Geller’s ads. That ads perceived by Muslims, to be anti-Muslim, such that they justify violence, could conceivably be used to prove that Muslims are unable to tolerate First Amendment norms in the same way as do other ethnic groups.  And that argument itself might, under this theory, incite violence.

Egyptian Reporter Defaces Subway ‘Anti-Savage’ Ad, Sprays an Opponent, Gets Arrested (Video)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Mona Eltahawy is an extremely well-spoken, Egyptian-American journalist who has become the g0-to speaker for comments on the Middle East in general, and on Egypt and Women’s issues in particular.  A speaker who stays on message no matter what is being asked, Eltahawy’s theme is: former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak and those who supported him are always bad, Muslims seeking to control their own destiny are always good and should be supported in the name of freedom and democracy, no matter how reprehensible their actions. Over the past few years Eltahawy has regularly been represented as an expert on such media outlets as CNN, the Guardian (UK), The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Eltahawy was arrested Wednesday evening, September 26, in a New York City subway station because she insisted free speech included her right to deface an ad espousing a message with which she disagreed – Pamela Geller’s anti-Jihad ad discussed and shown here.  She also insisted her free speech right extended to spraying toxic paint on a woman, Pamela Hall, who tried to interfere with Eltahawy’s efforts to deface Geller’s ad.  And then Eltahawy blamed Hall for interfering with her free speech rights and accused the arresting police officers of interfering with her “non-violent” protest, thereby engaging in anti-democratic activity.

It appears Eltahawy has a singularly self-focused understanding of freedom and democracy.  Given her limitations, it is problematic that so many media outlets rely on Eltahawy as an “expert.”  It is possible that given her criminal activity Wednesday evening, some will see her convoluted views of reality as casting doubts on past Eltahawy discourses.

The journalist’s inability to recognize why her activity was criminal and subverted the First Amendment, simply because Geller’s anti-Jihad ad constituted speech with which she didn’t agree, is telling.

But this isn’t the first time Eltahawy’s view of reality has been refracted through her own, narrow prism.

Eltahawy is best known for being an ardent activist for women’s rights, a dangerous and valiant effort for a Muslim.  She has written about the enormously high percentage of women who have been sexually assaulted in Egypt, as many as 80 percent, and that four out of five Egyptian women have reported being sexually assaulted.

Although Eltahawy has been highly critical and very vocal about the subjugation of women under Islam, when that view bumps up against her global recognition as an articulate spokesperson for the revolutionary Arab Spring, a disconnect takes place.

In the context of the anti-Jihad ads which she defaced, Eltahawy expressed outrage over the use of the term “savage,” to describe Jihadi activity.  In her view, the use of the word savage was an insult because she interpreted it to refer to all Muslims.  While defacing the ad, she told Hall, who tried to prevent the ad from being damaged, that she was protesting racism, and that Hall was defending racism.

But Eltahawy described Muslims who sexually assaulted and beat her last winter as a “pack of wild animals.”  So, was her anger over the use of the term savage, when she described wild, violent Muslims as “wild animals” hypocritical?  Not necessarily, because her criticism of the Egyptian police is consistent with her world view.  There were numerous reports of women assaulted by the civilian crowds, the revolutionaries, in Tahrir Square, during the Arab spring.  And it is in commenting on those assaults that Eltahawy’s hypocrisy is made clear.

Perhaps the best known, to western audiences, of sexual assaults by the Arab spring activists, is the assault on CBS’s Lara Logan.  Logan was brutally physically and sexually assaulted by those demonstrating in Tahrir Square crowds in February, 2011.

When Eltahawy was asked to comment on CTV News on the attacks on Logan, she “unequivocally condemned” the violence experienced by Logan.  However, the focus of her ire was always pointed back at the Mubarak regime, which was, she said, “known for targetting women.”

Eltahawy even went so far as to insinuate that Logan’s story was in some ways questionable, or at least an anomaly.  She also deflected the responsibility for the attack on unnamed others.

“Women I know said it was the safest area in Cairo,” Eltahawy said of Tahrir Square during the demonstrations.  But after Mubarak, the area was “open to all, so we don’t know who else was there.”

Pamela Hall is pressing charges against Eltahawy.  Her clothing and her bags were damaged by the paint.  When reached by The Jewish Press, Hall said she knew who Eltahawy was as soon as she saw her, but she was “surprised” to see her spray painting the ad.

According to Hall, using “paint is a much more serious act than slapping a sticker up and walking away.  What was she thinking?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egyptian-reporter-defaces-subway-anti-savage-ad-sprays-an-opponent-gets-arrested-video/2012/09/28/

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