Advertisements criticizing Islamic jihad will be displayed in subway stations throughout New York City starting this week.
While the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority had originally refused to run the advertisements, stating that they were “demeaning” to Muslims, after losing a battle in federal court, the signs must now go up. Judge Paul Engelmayer of Manhattan’s district court ruled that the message displayed on the advertisements, although controversial, is protected by the First Amendment.
The signs were purchased by Pamela Geller, the executive director of American Freedom Defense Initiative and regular contributor to WND and American Thinker. Geller has been noted for her vocal stances against Islam, including her protest against the Park51 Islamic community center that was to be built near Ground Zero. She has already posted the advertisements in San Francisco, and has been fighting in the courts to have them displayed in New York City as well.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” the sign reads. “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The statement was reportedly adapted from a quote from Ayn Rand, an atheist philosopher and Russian Jew that lived in New York City until her death in 1982 at the age of 77. Geller cites Rand as being one of her influences, as well as Bat Ye’or and Ibn Warraq.
Geller, also a Jew, ran an advertisement critical of Islam previously in the Metro-North railroad, and was not opposed. The sign which read, “It’s not Islamophobia; it’s Islamorealism,” was allowed to be posted because it was not deemed to be “demeaning” as opposed to using the word “savage.”
“Now we have come to the point where our courts have allowed people to plaster clear and unequivocal hate speech across our city,” stated Tahanie A. Aboushi, an attorney in Manhattan.
Hesham El-Meligy, founder of the Islamic Civic Association in Staten Island and co-founder of Muslims for Liberty, agreed.
“Pamela Geller and other Islamophobes do not provide any positive contribution,” he said.
Others state that they fear retaliation by Muslims due to the display of the advertisements.
“If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video … you shouldn’t put this up,” opined Abdul Yasar, who rides the subway station in the city.
However, Geller, 54, says she is not backing down, and believes that any form of violent backlash should be condemned and punished.
“I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages,” she said. “If it’s not a film [that Muslims become angry about], it’s a cartoon. If it’s not a cartoon, it’s a teddy bear.”
Geller has applied to post the advertisements in subway stations in the Washington, D.C. area, but has likewise been met with resistance. A federal lawsuit is currently pending in the matter.
As for New York City officials, they state that they have no choice following Judge Engelmayer’s order to allow the display of the advertisements.
“Our hands are tied,” stated transit authority spokesperson Aaron Donovan. “Under our existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.”
The advertisements cost $6,000 each.