Shockingly racist advertisements paid for by a notorious Islamophobic group led by famous anti-Muslim inciter Pamela Geller are currently being displayed on several MUNI buses in San Francisco, after New York City’s transportation agency said they wouldn’t consider running the ads.
The ad states, “In any war betwen the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel … Defeat jihad.”
Sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initative (AFDI), which has been defined as a hate group, the ads have drawn outrage from civil rights, human rights and legal advocates and activists in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as citizens who have called San Francisco’s transportation authority and signed a petition demanding to take the ads down.
Mondoweiss assembled some important reactions in the media to the ads, including an interview on KQED (the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate) with Pamela Geller, who said that “if San Francisco had denied my ad, I would have filed a lawsuit in San Francisco.”
Additionally, a brief post on Geller’s Islamophobic ad campaign appeared on Gawker. Gawker’s Cord Jefferson wrote:
Last month, a federal judge ruled that New York’s MTA had violated the AFDI’s First Amendment rights by rejecting the group’s ads for city bus placement. That decision prompted the Muni in San Francisco to accept the ads, despite the fact that it has a policy against political advertising. Because what’s political about a Jewish organization putting out a bus ad that tacitly calls Palestinians subhuman savages?
Following the outrage about these inciteful advertisements — which were put up during a time when Arabs, Muslims and other persons of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent are being targeted, their places of worship attacked, shot, killed, and pursued by white supremacist groups, members of Congress, and government agencies in this country — several Bay Area-based civil rights groups sent out a press release earlier today saying they will begin to measure the impact of the ads on the Arab and Muslim community. For their part, the San Francisco municipal transportation agency agreed that the ads “have no value in facilitating constructive dialogue or advancing the cause of peace and justice,” and stated that the advertising revenue would be directed to the SF Human Rights Commission.
The press release reads, in full:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Today, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) cautiously welcomed a response issued by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in response to anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic advertisements running on San Francisco buses. The groups have been working on a community assessment and response to the ads since complaints of them were first received last week.
The ad, sponsored by a group calling itself The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), led by Pamela Geller, states: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man.” It further states, “Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” AFDI has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“While the community respects the importance of free expression even for offensive speech, it is clear that these ads were designed specifically to intimidate Muslim, Arab and Palestinian members of the San Francisco community,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo.
In the statement issued yesterday, the Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors and SFMTA Director of Transportation on Advertisement acknowledged that although the First Amendment prevented them from removing the advertisements from public buses, they have “no value in facilitating constructive dialogue or advancing the cause of peace and justice.” Further, the statement went on to commit to directing all resulting advertising revenue to the SF Human Rights Commission (HRC).
ALC, AMP, CAIR-SFBA and JVP will be concluding a week-long community assessment this Friday, and plan to work with the HRC to develop requests of SFMTA that will properly reflect the level of community concern as well as solutions for remedying the harmful impact of these advertisements.
AMP Chair Dr. Hatem Bazian stated: “since the message of this advertisement foments the hostile climate towards Arabs and Muslims, especially during a two week time period that has seen more than eight attacks on mosques and Islamic institutions, it is important that all responses directly address Islamophobia and not merely diversity generally.”