A Christian social justice group is fighting the newest wave of anti-Muslim advertisements with a campaign to raise $25,000 to buy counter-advertisements aboard the D.C. Metro system that read, “Love Your Muslim Neighbor.”
The campaign, announced yesterday, comes after the controversial ads, which have already been placed in San Francisco and New York, reached the nation’s capital. Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the advertisement reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Sojourners, the Washington-based social justice group, is now soliciting $25 contributions in the hopes of raising the necessary $5,000 to buy a counter ad. “If we want peace between Muslims and Christians, we can start by standing against religious intolerance in our own backyard,” the group said in a statement. “Everyone – regardless of race, religion, or creed – deserves to feel welcome and safe when riding public transit in the United States.”
There has been considerable public opposition to AFDI’s anti-jihad campaign, which many detractors call Islamaphobic. On Friday, though, U.S. District Judge Mary Collyer ruled that the D.C. transit system had to allow the advertisements based on the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
Ron Meier of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, “We support the court’s conclusion that the ad is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, yet we still strongly object to both the message and the messenger. We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim. It is possible to support Israel without engaging in bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes.”
“We don’t think it’s controversial,” Pamela Geller, executive director of the AFDI told reporters. “It’s truth. Telling the truth now is equated with ‘hate’ and ‘bigotry’ in an attempt to silence and demonize the truth-tellers. That makes my ads all the more important.”