A campaign that places ads on public transport against Islam and Palestinians in the United States has forced a transportation agency to review its policies.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” reads one of the ads on the sides of buses in New York. Then, between two Stars of David, the tag line appears: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The ads which have reportedly appeared in New York, Connecticut and San Francisco have compelled Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reconsider its policy on non-commercial advertisements.
“The MTA sells advertising space to raise revenue to support mass transit operations. MTA’s existing policy for ads carried on subways, buses and trains permits both commercial and non-commercial paid advertisements,” the McClatchy-Tribune News Service reported the MTA as saying in a statement.
“The MTA does not decide whether to allow a proposed advertisement based upon its viewpoint and the MTA does not endorse the viewpoint in this or any other paid advertisement. MTA is currently reviewing its policy of accepting non-commercial viewpoint advertisements,” the statement added.
MTA is also the parent organization of Metro-North in Connecticut, the state that saw five of its stations on the New Haven Line -- Greenwich, Cos Cob, Noroton Heights, Darien and South Norwalk -- having slogans such as “It’s not Islamophobia, It’s Islamorealism,” in red lettering on a black background. Above the slogan the poster lists the number 19,250, the purported number of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In San Francisco, meanwhile, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency denounced the ads and ran huge disclaimers on the sides of the buses to denounce what a spokesman called the “repulsive” message from the campaigners. The spokesman also said MTA was forced to accept the ads.
The anti-Islam campaign was created by Pamela Geller, a blogger and head of the American Freedom Defense Infinitive (AFDI). Geller has also spent $10,000 for the campaign.
“I hope people will gain a new understanding of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat,” Geller, who was also against the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center, said.
Last month, meanwhile, a U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer issued a ruling saying that MTA has violated Geller and the AFDI’s free speech rights by rejecting an earlier advertisement it considered discriminatory against members of the Muslim religion.
According to The New York times, opponents of the campaign are working to edit Geller’s messages by inverting them.
“In any war between the colonizer and the colonized, support the oppressed. Support the Palestinian right of return. Defeat racism,” read a statement in an image posted on Facebook last week by an Oakland blogger. The image showed that text was added to the side of one bus.
Liliana Segura, an editor at The Nation, joined the opponent campaign when she posted an image of an ad on Twitter last month.
In the message alongside the picture, Seguar wrote: “Just a friendly reminder about Palestine, at the Yonkers Metro North Station.”
Segura’s photograph shows the ad from the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, which illustrated the “Palestinian Loss of Land” from 1946 to 2010 through a series of maps. The text next to the illustration said: “4.7 Million Palestinians Are Classified by the U.N. as Refugees.”