Transgender refugee Laura Davis, 22, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday to a charge of causing racially, and religiously aggravated harassment, alarm, or distress by words or writings for holding a sign that read "Israel burn in hell" at a anti-Isael rally,
According to the Telegraph, Davis claimed to not know what the sign said because it was written in English, and had just "picked it up from a bench." While in court Davis spoke through an Arabic interpreter.
Police said Davis was seen on CCTV carrying the sign which read, "FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL," during a protest in central London on Oct. 28. The charges said Davis was accused of displaying a sign that was "threatening or abusive in the hearing of sight of a person likely to have caused harassment, alarm or distress, and the offense was racially aggravated."
At the hearing, the chairman of the magistrates' bench, Nicholas Tarry told Davis that the message on the sign "is not an appropriate thing to be waving; it’s violent language about another country and it is not allowed” and ordered the refugee to pay £225.
"You have come to this country for tolerance," Tarry said. "You deserve tolerance and other people do as well. You must show other people the tolerance you expect them to show you."
Davis was granted asylum in England after fleeing Saudi Arabia in December of 2021 because the country is not accepting of transgender people. Davis' attorney, Nicola White said carrying the sign was "an impulsive action" after finding it at the bus stop.
She said Davis did not mean to offend anyone and "has expressed deep remorse and regret at that moment in picking up that sign that she did not seek clarification from another Arabic-speaking member of the protest (about its meaning)." White added that Davis "comes across as polite and not a troublemaker," and "is a member of the transgender community and due to the views in Saudi Arabia, she had no choice but to flee."
"We have been clear that while the right to protest lawfully must be respected, that does not extend to actions or statements that cross the line from political speech into criminality," said Andy Valentine, Dept Asst Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. "While the majority of those attending protests have done so lawfully, it is regrettable that we have seen a number of people who have turned up carrying signs or chanting in a way that they should know will cause alarm or distress to others and in particular those in our Jewish communities."