Metro Displays New Anti-Muslim Ads
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 07:10
A new advertisement in four metro stations has just a few words but its reference to Muslims as savages is sparking a new controversy in the metropolitan area. The pro-Israel ads read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilian man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The advertisement was installed on Monday after Metro delayed putting up the advertisement because of the violent protests overseas to an anti-Islamic film made in the United States. Metro was sued in September by the American Freedom Defense Initiative for the right to display the ads in the Metro system. According to the Associated Press, a federal court ruled Oct. 5 that the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority could not refuse the advertisement on First Amendment grounds.
Ibrahim Hooper, Communications Director of the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR) believes the ads will only ignite more anti-Muslim incidents.
“There have been several anti-Muslim acts across the nation recently. The majority of the acts are based on negative sentiments being put out to the public like these ads,” he said.
Ayah Belal, Vice President of the Howard University Muslim Association (HU MSA) finds the advertisement to be degrading. “The literal meaning of “jihad” is struggle and for them to take an Arabic word and deface it as something violent is just ignorant,” she said.
Pamela Geller, Executive Director of American Freedom Defense Initiative said in a statement that the ads are not hate speech. “It’s love of life speech. The ad speaks to the defense of freedom and individual rights for all. There’s nothing hateful about it,” she said.
While both Hooper and Belal find the advertisement disturbing they don’t encourage anyone to deface the advertisements. “There are works in place for counter ads to placed next to the ads. Any acts of vandalism to the ads is inappropriate,” Hooper said.
Belal said HU MSA is planning to go out and inform others about Islam. “We’re thinking about doing something like MSA’s in NY that went into the subway and handed out flowers that had verses attached from the Quran and discussing with people on the subway what they thought about the ads,” she said.
One metro rider says the advertisement is expression of Freedom of Speech.
“I don’t really pay attention but I think it’s disturbing. However it is freedom of speech and people have the right to express their opinion, even if it’s extreme,” said Jessica Townson, 31, a District resident.
The advertisements are installed in the New York Subway stations on San Francisco buses and in the Takoma, Glenmont, Georgia Avenue and U Street Metro stations.
A spokesman for Metro would not comment on the advertisements but says they will comply with court’s ruling.