Refugee fined for waving sign she 'found at bus stop and didn't understand' at Palestine march

Pro-Palestine rallies have been held in London on multiple Saturdays since Israel's war in Gaza began. Credit: PA

A refugee who displayed an offensive sign at a pro-Palestine rally in London found it at a bus stop and did not realise what it said, a court has 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.

She'd been charged after being spotted waving the placard at a protest in central London on October 28, which Westminster Magistrates' Court heard was "threatening or abusive".

Davis, who fled her home in Saudi Arabia in December 2021 because she was not accepted as a transgender person, went to the protest with “with good intentions”, but carried the sign in an "impulsive action", defence lawyer Nicola White told Westminster Magistrates' Court.

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”.

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Davis, of Barnet, north London, was ordered to pay a total of £225 including £100 fine, £40 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Mr Tarry told her: “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?”

Davis nodded quietly as she stood in the dock.

Ms White said her client has "expressed deep remorse and regret" over picking up the sign, and not seeking clarification from another Arabic-speaker about its meaning.

Describing Davis as someone who “comes across as polite and not a troublemaker”, 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.

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