Wednesday, 19 September 2012
New Yorkers catching the subway will soon encounter what appears to be a pro-Israel advertisement on the transit system, believed to insinuate that the practice of jihad is “savage,” the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The advert, according to the news report, will read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
New York commuters can expect the ads to circulate next week after an appeal by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority against the adverts was rejected by a federal court.
A Manhattan judge said in July that the authority violated the First Amendment rights of the group behind the ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).
Due to the ad’s “demeaning” language, it had been barred from placement, as per the authority’s initial appeal.
Jihad, an Arabic term which means a struggle for a cause, is usually interpreted by western societies as “holy war.”
The transit authority in Washington had “deferred” the ad’s placement due to “a concern for public safety, given current world events,” despite the AFDI purchasing ad space in the capital.
Late last month, Judge Paul Engelmayer gave the agency two weeks to revise its ad policy despite requesting to postpone the judge’s decision until Sept. 27, when the next board meeting is scheduled to take place.
Executive director for the AFDI, Pamela Feller, said in an email to the NYT that the current political climate in the Middle East was not a reason for her to hesitate in posting the ads in New York.
The group is also responsible for another ad that was posted on Metro-North Railroad stations with the slogan, “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism,” in reference to anti-Islam sentiment felt by Muslims since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
That ad was not barred by the transportation authority as it didn’t cross the threshold for “demeaning” language like the word “savage” did in the recent ad, according to the report.
The executive director of New York’s Council on American-Islamic Relations responded to the ad, according to the NYT, by saying it was a method of defining Muslims through “hate speech.”