Arab Spring activist arrested in New York for attempt to deface pro-Israel poster

Egyptian-born activist Mona Eltahawy defaces ‘anti jihad’ ad- New York
Sep 25, 2012 by
Protesters clash over provocative ‘pro-Israel’ subway poster. – New York Post
Jerome Taylor, Religious Affairs Correspondent, The Independent
Thursday 27 September 2012
The prominent US-Egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy has been arrested in New York for defacing a subway poster that labels Muslims who oppose Israeli policies as “savage”.
Ms Eltahawy, who has become a prominent commentator since she was viciously beaten by pro-Mubarak thugs during the protests that toppled the Egyptian dictator last year, sprayed pink paint over the billboard until she was led away in handcuffs by police.
Her protest was captured on film by a local news crew. Ms Eltahawy can be seen vandalising a poster which reads: “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Local blogger Pamela Hall, who writes regular anti-Muslim posts on a number of sites, attempts to stop Ms Eltahawy in an exchange which gets both increasingly fractious and comical.
The posters have been criticised as inflammatory because they appear to suggest that any opposition to Israel is somehow both militant and savage. They were paid for by the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), a right-wing lobby group which gained notoriety last year when it spearheaded the campaign against plans to build a mosque in downtown Manhattan. It is known for its support of Israel.
Even before Ms Eltahawy’s protest, the advertising campaign had caused controversy. Unlike in Britain, where the rules governing political adverts are significantly tighter, New York generally allows protest posters if the backers have the money to pay for it. Continue reading

Tracking Hate Crimes, Tracking the FBI’s Crimes

[Ever since the criminal/hate massacre of Sikhs took place on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the shock and anger at that horrifying murderous act by a white-supremacist gunman has fueled an intense discussion and debate within the Sikh community and South Asians, and among all who stand in solidarity and in common humanity with the targeted Sikh community.  Some have argued that Sikhs should embrace the FBI and other instruments of government repression, and try to get the FBI to take action against fascist attackers.  Others have said that Sikhs should draw more closely together, and join forces with all victims of white supremacy, of racial profiling, of Islamophobia and of xenophobia, in more determined and forceful community alliances.  While some have argued combining these methods, others have argued the incompatability of these two strategies, because of the key role the FBI has played in both supporting and initiating attacks (racial and Islamophic profiling programs) on targeted communities and activists of (non-white) color and (non-Cristian) religion.  The following is from a Sikh blog, The Langar Hall. — Frontlines ed.]

The Oak Creek community mourns the loss of the shooting victims from the Oak Creek Sikh temple at a group wake and visitation service in the Oak Creek High School gymnasium on Friday.

September 18th, 2012

Over the last month since the horrific tragedy in Oak Creek, WI, Sikh civil rights organizations and other leaders in the community seem to have come to a consensus on what our collective demand should be to move forward — getting the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs.  A few weeks ago Valarie Kaur wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Sikhs deserve the dignity of being a statistic,” in which she convincingly articulates the basic argument that many are making:

The FBI tracks all hate crimes on Form 1-699, the Hate Crime Incident Report. Statistics collected on this form allow law enforcement officials to analyze trends in hate crimes and allocate resources appropriately. But under the FBI’s current tracking system, there is no category for anti-Sikh hate crimes. The religious identity of the eight people shot in Oak Creek will not appear as a statistic in the FBI’s data collection. As a Sikh American who hears the rising fear and concerns in my community, I join the Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) in calling for the FBI to change its policy and track hate crimes against Sikhs.

We’ve all probably gotten numerous action alerts to sign petitions, call our Senators, and, most recently, to attend tomorrow’s Senate hearing on hate violence in Washington, DC.  The Sikh Coalition’s email advisory today about tomorrow’s hearing begins, “Be Present and Request that the FBI Track Hate Crimes Against Sikhs.”

It seems like a sensible request.  The FBI is a government agency responsible for investigating hate crimes, so of course they should be looking specifically at attacks targeting Sikhs and have a category to enable them to do so.  While I am sympathetic to this cause, I am a bit troubled by it, or have some questions about it, as well. Continue reading