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MSU student arrested for throwing pie at senator

August 16, 2010

Ahlam Mohsen, an MSU anthropology senior, was arrested on assault and battery charges early Monday after hitting U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in the face with a pie.

Levin was meeting with the Mecosta County Democratic Party at Pepper’s Café and Deli in Big Rapids when he was assaulted with the pie, said Sgt. Jeff Jennings of the Big Rapids Police Department. About 50 people were present at the time of the incident.

During a question and answer session, Max Kantar, a Ferris State University alumnus, began to read a statement accusing Levin of war crimes. After he finished, Mohsen approached Levin and hit him with the pie.

Mohsen is awaiting arraignment in Mecosta County Jail. The Mecosta Country Sheriff’s Office declined to comment further on the matter until Mohsen’s arraignment, which has yet to be announced.

Levin is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which oversees U.S. troops and war efforts. He has served on the committee for more than 12 years, and has been chairman of it several times.

Kantar, who said in an e-mail that he was cut off several times during his speech, began by calling Levin “one of the most respected senators in the United States.” However, Kantar then began denouncing Levin as “(continuing) to call for more murderous attacks in the (Middle East) region.”

In the two-page critique, Kantar touched on the Isreali-Palestine conflict, the U.S.’s foreign policy on Iran, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the homeless population in Detroit, where Levin is from.

“If there was any justice in this country or in this world, you would be in prison,” Kantar said before Mohsen threw the pie.

In a press release, Levin said although he is a proponent of free speech and the First Amendment, the pie protesters had taken advantage of what was meant to be a peaceful gathering. A spokesperson for Levin declined further comment on the issue.

“I hold meetings like this morning’s so I can hear the views of Michiganians, and I’m more than willing to hear from people who disagree with me,” Levin said in a press release statement this afternoon. “They didn’t hurt me, but they hurt their cause even more than their own extreme words had already done.”

Social relations policy senior Nik Pfost said Mohsen, who was involved with Michigan Youth in Government with Pfost for several years, is heavily involved in political issues.

Pfost said Mohsen took time off from school to go to Palestine several years ago to help refugees.

“She has always been passionate about a lot of social justice issues and has not been afraid to confront them,” Pfost said. “I have always thought she was pretty remarkable in that respect.”

Monday’s incident was not the first time Mohsen has taken the antiwar cause to Levin.

Mohsen and Kantar were arrested Jan. 22 outside of Levin’s Lansing office after organizing a sit-in with several other college students.

The sit-in focused on decreasing military, economic and diplomatic support for Israel. Mohsen also called for an investigation of Israeli war crimes during the sit-in.

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