An Egyptian-born journalist who was arrested last week for defacing one of the controversial “anti-jihad” ads in New York City has appeared on MSNBC with Chris Hayes to explain her motivation.
After playing the clip of Mona Eltahawy attempting to vandalize the ad with spray paint as another woman dramatically positions herself in the line of fire, Hayes asks if they can just “talk tactics” to begin.
“There’s a great Internet phrase called ‘don’t feed the trolls’…when someone tries to basically get a rise out of you with idiocy, just don’t rise to the bait,” he began. “And it seems to me like this was like an exercise in feeding the trolls. So why did you decide to do this?”
Well, first of all because this ad is more than ‘idiocy.’ You know that [YouTube] film…that was idiocy…This is an ad that is seen by the millions of people who ride the subway– including myself– every day in New York. This is an ad that comes eleven years into Muslims and Arabs, because this isn’t just about Islam here– there is racism and bigotry involved– eleven years after 9/11, a horrendous terrorist attack that no Muslim I know has ever condoned. And eleven years after the Muslim and Arab citizens of New York…[are] constantly being called on to apologize over and over again for something we didn’t do.
And again, this is an ad that conflates being Arab and Muslim, with being against Israel and being with jihad. This choice is a false choice, so it’s more than idiocy. [Emphasis added]
The relevant discussion begins around 2:19:
Hayes then proceeds to press Eltahawy, asking what exactly she was trying to prove by vandalizing the advertisement.
Eltahawy responds that, as a U.S. citizen, she is proud to take part in America’s long tradition of civil disobedience against what she perceives to be injustice propagated by people like Pamela Geller. She boldly adds that she refuses to be silenced “in the face of racism and hate.”
“How is she silencing you by putting an ad on a [subway]?” one panelist can’t help but ask the passionate journalist.
As Hayes and the rest of the panel note that, as a guest on MSNBC, Eltahawy is far from “silenced,” the journalist revised her statement to say that she refuses to be “bullied.”
“Two hours before I did what I did, I saw a man on 49th St….actually rip a poster,” she remarks. “I did not want to rip that poster. You know what I wanted to do? I wanted to write ‘racist’ in pink.”
“I chose pink for many reasons, one of which is it does not actually remove the words. I did not want to remove the words– I could have chosen black.”
Here is the rest of Eltahawy’s MSNBC interview, where she weighs in on the protests sweeping the Middle East, and equates fanatical Salafists with American right-wingers:
- Activist Gets in Physical Altercation While Trying to Spray Paint Over Anti-Jihad Poster
- Conservative’s Anti-Jihad Subway Ad Leads to New Policies: NYC Authority Can Now Ban Ads That Could ‘Incite or Provoke Violence’
- Lib Pastor Jim Wallis Accuses Conservative of ‘Hatred’ & Begs Her to ‘Stop Talking’ During On-Air Clash Over Anti-Jihad Subway Ad