Journalist Mona Eltahawy defended her recent arrest in New York Sunday on Up With Chris Hayes, saying it was in line with the American tradition of lawful disobedience.
“I don’t think we should be quiet or silent or be bullied into silence in the face of racism and hate,” she told host Chris Hayes. “I’m a U.S. citizen. This country has a long and proud history of civil disobedience. I was prepared to be arrested. I wrote to many of my friends and said, ‘Look, I might be arrested, so if I go offline for a few hours, be prepared.’ I was arrested. I’m proud I was arrested. I would do it again in a second, because we should not be bullied into silence by racism.”
Eltahawy was arrested Tuesday for spray-painting over an anti-Islam advertisement in a New York subway station paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group founded by Pamela Geller, who became a favorite guest for right-wing radio shows two years ago for her “Ground Zero Mosque” allegations against a planned community center in New York.
The ad, placed in 10 subway stations around the city, was initially rejected by the Metropolitan Transit Authority for characterizing Muslims as “savages,” but was approved on free speech grounds.
Eltahawy’s arrest was caught on video, in which she repeatedly asks two police officers what she was being charged with. The officers did not answer her, and at least one looks directly at the camera filming the incident. She was charged with criminal mischief and released after 22 hours, an imprisonment she said on Twitter was longer than the one she suffered in Egypt after being attacked by riot police.
The video also shows Eltahawy in a confrontation with photographer Pamela Hall, an associate of Geller’s who posted a photo essay called “Is Sharia coming to America?” in which she follows Muslims around Times Square.
“My client decided to take a stand based on principle,” Eltahawy’s attorney, Stanley Cohen, told The New York Daily News. “I wonder how New Yorkers would react to a poster with an oven that said, ‘Not enough Jews.’”
Eltahawy’s appearance on Up With Chris Hayes, aired Sunday, can be seen below.