Trans refugee who waved sign reading 'Israel burn in hell' fined £100

Trans refugee, 22, who waved sign calling for Israel to ‘burn in hell’ at London pro-Palestinian protest is fined £100 – as she claims she didn’t understand what it said

  • Laura Davis, 22, waved the offensive sign during protests on October 28

A trans refugee from Saudi Arabia who waved a sign at a pro-Palestine rally.calling for Israel to ‘burn in hell’ found the placard at a bus stop and didn’t understand it, a court heard.

Laura Davis, 22, pleaded guilty through an Arabic interpreter to a charge of having caused racially, religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress by words or writing when she appeared at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Davis, of Barnet, north London, was charged after being spotted with the sign, which read ‘FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL’ at a protest in central London on October 28.

The sign was likely to cause ‘harassment alarm or distress’ and the offence was ‘racially aggravated’, the court was told – but lawyers for the Saudi woman said she didn’t understand its meaning and found it on her way to the rally.

Nicholas Tarry, chairman of the magistrates’ bench, told Davis the message on the placard ‘is not an appropriate thing to be waving; it’s violent language about another country and it is not allowed’.

Laura Davis, 22, admitted causing racially and religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress with the sign

Ms Davis is a Saudi Arabian refugee who sought asylum in the UK because of her transgender identity, the court was told

Around 100,000 people are believed to have attended the October 28 pro-Palestine protests in London (pictured)

Ms Davis was spotted carrying the sign on CCTV before she was stopped by police officers

The court heard Davis fled her home in Saudi Arabia in December 2021 because she was not accepted as a transgender person. She was granted asylum in the summer.

Met Police officers stopped her on Regent Street on the evening of October 28 after spotting the sign on CCTV.

Mr Tarry, who ordered her to pay a total of £225 including £100 fine, £40 victim surcharge and £85 costs, told Davis: ‘You have come to this country for tolerance. You deserve tolerance and other people do as well.

‘You must show other people the tolerance you expect them to show you. Do you understand?’

READ MORE: London braced for pro-Palestine rallies in 13 boroughs today: Protesters will call for permanent ceasefire as Israeli warplanes pound Gaza again

Davis nodded quietly as she stood in the dock.

An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of the capital on October 28, three weeks after Hamas terrorists entered Gaza and slaughtered some 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians.

Speaking in mitigation, defence lawyer Nicola White said Davis attended the rally ‘with good intentions’ but, in ‘an impulsive action’, carried the sign away after finding it at the bus stop.

Davis did not mean to offend anyone, Ms White said, adding that she has shown remorse and made an early guilty plea.

She added that the protester did not seek clarification about the sign’s meaning from someone who could help her understand it.

Ms White said: ‘She has expressed deep remorse and regret in that moment in picking up that sign that she did not seek clarification from another Arabic-speaking member of the protest (about its meaning).’

She added: ‘She is a member of the transgender community and due to the views in Saudi Arabia, she had no choice but to flee. She has been abandoned by her family because of the way she lives.’

The money and costs will be deducted from Davis’s benefits as she completes a course and seeks employment, the court was told.

The Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine said following the conviction: ‘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.

‘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.

‘If you are coming out to protest, please think carefully about how slogans and statements might impact others. We will not tolerate hate speech or abuse.

‘Anyone who continues to engage in that sort of behaviour, despite the clear warnings we have provided, will face police action and could end up before the courts.’

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