Unwanted publicity

Woman sues news agency for disseminating photo of her wearing a headscarf

A Muslim woman is suing The Associated Press and a news photographer over a photo depicting her wearing a headscarf while sitting in a New York City Starbucks last month. Fifi Youseff, 22, of Queens, New York, was taking a break from work on December 16 when, unbeknownst to her, photographer Mark Lennihan snapped a photo of her as she sat looking at a smartphone, a red Starbucks cup resting on the table in front of her. Youseff remained unaware of the photo, which can be seen here, until it turned up alongside an Op-Ed in The Washington Post in which two prominent Muslim women implored other women to stop wearing hijabs as a show of solidarity. Asra Nomani, one of the Op-Ed’s authors, has been a contributor to Women in the World. Lennihan had sold the photo of Youseff, who isn’t identified by name in the image, to The Associated Press, which in turn made the photo available to its many news clients around the world. Youseff’s lawsuit claims Lennihan and the AP violated her right of publicity, typically a law invoked by celebrities when unauthorized images of them are used by news outlets or for other promotional purposes. “Plaintiff has been dismayed and deeply emotionally upset by defendants’ use of her photograph for advertisement and trade purposes,” the lawsuit states, adding that she was labeled with the keywords “hijab, Muslim” and “Islam” in the AP’s photo archive. The suit goes on to say that Youseff was upset by some of the comments posted beneath the controversial Op-Ed, like one that reads, “I’m fine with Muslim women wearing a scarf … just wear it where I don’t have to look at it.” It’s not clear what damages Youseff is seeking, but some precedent for her case might lie in the outcomes of similar cases brought in the past by people like James Brown, the heirs of Martin Luther King Jr. and Paris Hilton.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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