San Francisco anti-Muslim bus ads spark harsh criticism
San Francisco civic officials have denounced a “racist” anti-Muslim ad campaign underway in the city. Controversial ads with jihadist slogans have appeared on 10 city buses, all of which bear incendiary Islamist quotes.
Those who use public transit in San Francisco, or just pay attention to its ads, might run into the following statements:
“Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah,” a saying attributed to Palestinian militant group of Hamas; “The first thing we are calling you to is to Islam,” an alleged quote by Osama Bin Laden; “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers,”Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is portrayed as saying.
Other posters feature the Times Square car bomber and Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood, Texas, shooter.
The campaign is sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a group whose stated goal is to resist the “Islamisation of America.” The organization aims to show the “reality of jihad and root causes of terrorism, from the words of jihadists themselves,” AFDI Executive Director Pamela Geller told AP.
AFDI’s website published a statement explaining their ad campaign: “Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas front groups, with eager help from the mainstream media, have embarked on a cynical nationwide campaign to confuse Americans about the meaning of jihad, and make us complacent about the threat of jihad and Islamic supremacism. At AFDI, we’re fighting back.”
City authorities have vehemently denounced the ads as racist. “San Francisco is a city that celebrates its diversity, and hateful speech and discrimination against our Arab and Muslim communities will never be tolerated,” Mayor Ed Lee said on Monday. And San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said the ads aim to “denigrate, marginalize and dehumanize our city’s Arab and Muslim communities.”
Pamela Geller, however, believes the ads are not hate speech, but a reality check on Islamic aggression in which the slogans speak for themselves. “City officials denounce our ads, but not the actual quotes from high-profile jihadists calling for holy war and genocide,” she said. “The purpose of our ads is to show the purpose of jihad.”
San Francisco’s transit agency said a court ruling on the First Amendment has forced it to accept the ads.
The ads will run for one month, and were placed on 10 of San Francisco’s 800 public transit buses. AFDI paid $5,000 for the campaign, money that will reportedly be spent to fund a study on the impact of discrimination against the Muslim community. “We’re going to take their money of hate and use it to do good,” said Theresa Sparks, executive director of the city’s Human Rights Commission.
Similar ads have appeared on transit systems in Washington, DC, Chicago and Portland. The ads intentionally employ a similar font and layout as a recent series of pro-Islam ‘MyJihad’ ads.
AFDI ran a similar campaign in San Francisco in August, and posted ads in New York City; the latest ran in September, in which enemies of Israel were implied to be “savages.”