Rania El-Alloul: How New Power Helped Her to Take Over the Court Case

by Raya on Avril 28, 2015 - 9:10am

On Saturday, February 28th, Rania El-Alloul expressed her affection to people who helped her fundraise money against judge Eliana Marengo after she went on court to claim her case on the province’s auto insurance board. However, the judge refused to take her case unless she took her hijab off. El-Alloul sent her gratitude: “I am receiving support from everywhere, because I know I said the truth,”(Lowrie, p 1) she says. When two residents from Toronto and Vancouver heard the news, they decided to unite and try to fundraise money to this woman in order to buy her a new car. They ended up raising over 40 000$ on gofundme.com in support of Al-Alloul’s case. Now her case was put to hold and she is speaking to lawyers to send a complaint against the judge.  

The online community that helped her finance this campaign demonstrated a clear example of new power. New power according to Jeremy Heiman is “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination – these are the two key elements – to create change and shift outcomes”. (Heimans, p 7) In other words, it means that, with the mass participation of people of the internet, El-Alloul was, not only able to have a new car, but also to have a trial. The fact that they have amassed a large amount of money is like a sign of approval to the woman’s actions. This campaign gave her strength and confidence to continue forward to try to win the trial. If old power was part of this process, the judge would have won the case against El-Alloul. The judge represents force by only one entity. She knows she had the opportunity to use her power, however, new power won over her. Since her actions were not illegal but morally incorrect, the observers of the outside community (which here were the two Canadians fundraisers) helped the hijabi to win this case. At some point, Heimans also states that “New power values participation, and new power is all about do-it-yourself”. (Heimans, p 12) Here, on their own, two Canadians decided to join forces and make a change, and they did it. Nobody told them to do so except their own consciousness: they knew that this woman was powerless and could not do much if they did not help her. With the help of the website gofundme.com, they got to reach people from all around Canada to support the cause. In the end, a group of people speak louder than only one individual, and the decision has already been taken with the force of community which defines new power.  

New power has all the capacities to solve problems when it comes to discrimination and civil rights. When everybody is united together to help one cause, that is the real meaning of power. Money does not rule over community, and even less over justice.