New York’s MTA must run ‘Muslim’ movie posters in subways

Muslim Advocates Legal Director Glenn Katon, left, and Muslim comedians Negin Farsad, center, and Dean Obeidallah, right, hold a press conference about a lawsuit challenging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's refusal to run comedic ads about American Muslims like those displayed. (AP)

A federal judge has ordered New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to let filmmakers run a series of lighthearted advertisements promoting their film "The Muslims Are Coming!" in the subway.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan is a defeat for the MTA, which in April banned political ads from buses and subways after another judge ordered it to display a controversial ad from an anti-Muslim group.

McMahon granted a preliminary injunction requiring the MTA to display Vaguely Qualified Productions LLC's ads for its film for 28 days, and said the studio had "established a clear or substantial likelihood of success on the merits" of its lawsuit.

Ads for "The Muslims Are Coming!" contained what filmmakers Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah considered tongue-in-cheek statements such as "The Ugly Truth About Muslims: Muslims have great frittata recipes" and "Those Terrorists Are All Nutjobs," with "nutjobs" replacing the crossed off "Muslim" to be "more accurate."

The film also features commentary from people like Lewis Black, Rachel Maddow, Russell Simmons and Jon Stewart.

McMahon said the MTA did not show that the ads were political, or exercise "viewpoint neutrality" in excluding them.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency is reviewing the decision.

"We're very pleased," said Glenn Katon, a lawyer for Vaguely Qualified, in an interview. "Just because you have something comedic that refers to 'Muslims' or 'Islam' doesn't make the subject matter controversial or political. The judge got that."

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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