NYC: Case dismissed in nude anti-war protest

Well, somebody, it seems, has found something more creative to do to protest the war in Iraq than march in orderly rows chanting monotonous slogans in unison. From New York Newsday, sept. 22:

NEW YORK — A Manhattan judge Thursday dismissed the public nudity summons issued to an artist who was arrested after she protested the Iraq war by disrobing to display the words “STOP THE WAR” written on her naked body. [In Arabic too.—WW4 REPORT]

Hala Faisal, 47, was arrested, led away in handcuffs and given the summons for “public exposure of a person” because of her Lady Godiva-type protest near the arch in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.

Faisal’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, said Judge Stanley Katz granted his motion to dismiss the summons on grounds that the paperwork was not done correctly. Kuby had argued that the summons did not specify what offending body part Faisal exposed.

Kuby quoted Katz as saying, “You’re right. It could be anything. In some places they don’t even want your face exposed.”

Kuby said Faisal, a Syrian-born performance artist, “should not have been arrested in the first place.” Women in New York are entitled to bare their breasts under “equal protection” rules since men are allowed to bare theirs, Kuby said, and anyone may bare all if they do so during a “play, performance, exhibition or show.” [We support the right to public total nudity as First Amendment activity, but the Arabic portion of Faisal’s slogan was written on an exposed portion of the anatomy considerably south of and posterior to the breasts.—WW4 REPORT]

Faisal, in New York since 1998, said her nude protest was symbolic disarmament.

“I know this is a metaphor, but it is the only way I feel I can protest the unjust occupations,” she said in a statement on the day of the protest. “I do not condone violence—this is a peaceful protest. I hope my efforts will not be misunderstood.”

Faisal invited others to join her protest against the war in Iraq but reportedly said she was disappointed that no one did.

Kuby said Faisal’s father was a Syrian government communications minister who resigned after Hafez al-Assad, dictator who ruled Syria for some 30 years, came to power.

See our last post on the politics of the anti-war movement.