A new sign that has been proposed for NYC buses and subways is at the center of a heated debate on free speech. The quote, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah” will appear throughout New York City after U.S. District Judge John Koeltl ruled that the New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) cannot discriminate against ads with controversial content.
According to the Washington Post, New Yorkers are used to very “aggressive advertising,” such as billboards for condoms and breast implants. The MTA argued that this advertisement, which directly quotes Hamas MTV, could incite violence against NYC Jews.
The push for the advertisement to appear in NYC has been backed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), whose website describes their organization’s objective as “[going] on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological, and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values… AFDI acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, the ever-encroaching and unconstitutional power of the federal government, and the rapidly moving attempts to impose socialism and Marxism upon the American people.”
New York is not the AFDI’s first free speech victory; they have filed nine lawsuits in cities across the United States that have prohibited their messages. According to the Post, “Those messages include a poster depicting Adolf Hitler meeting with “the leader of the Muslim world” and demanding that the United States cut off all aid to Islamic countries. “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” reads another AFDI poster. “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
These messages have drawn objections from Muslim organizations, such as The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose name directly implies its purpose. The CAIR promotes better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and has launched its own campaign to defeat AFDI’s messages.
According to Pamela Geller, the co-founder of AFDI and political blogger, Egypt’s leading authority has issued a FATWA after calling the posters racist. The official condemnation claims, “This hazardous campaign will leave the gate of confrontation and clashes wide open instead of exerting efforts towards peaceful coexistence and harmony…”
AFDI has been anything but discouraged by the opposition. According to Pamela Geller, “With our NY win, our ads will make their debut on New York buses in the coming weeks,” AFDI’s Web site promises above a “donate” button. “We want to run 100. Help us make that happen.”