NYC officials denounce anti-Islam transit ads

AP News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2014 4:50 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Elected officials and religious leaders from several faiths on Tuesday denounced anti-Islamic ads that are appearing soon on New York City transit buses and subway stations.

Six different ads will appear this week on some Manhattan subway entrances and next week on 100 buses. Some of the ads depict American journalist James Foley with his masked executioner in the moments before he is beheaded. Another is an image of a Muslim leader next to Adolf Hitler.

"We can reject hatred," city Comptroller Scott Stringer said at a news conference held in front of City Hall. "This is the kind of hatred that we must have zero tolerance for."

The ads, which will cost $100,000, are being bankrolled by a group led by blogger Pamela Gellar. A 2012 federal court decision ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the region's mass transit system, must run so-called viewpoint ads.

"Our hands are tied," said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg. "A series of court rulings have made clear the MTA cannot refuse advertisements that meet our revised advertising standards."

The ads will run with a disclaimer saying that they do not represent the views of the MTA. One ad, which makes reference to "killing Jews," was rejected by the MTA on the grounds that it could incite violence.

Gellar, who is suing to reverse that decision, said in an interview Tuesday that she is running the ads because "politicians and the media won't tell these stories."

"It's important to run these ads to increase awareness of increasing magnitude of the jihad threat and to an end to willful ignorance of that threat," she said. She denied that she was anti-Islam, but said she feels that she doesn't "need to pat on the back every Muslim who doesn't want to kill me."

The officials who rallied at City Hall suggested that even if there were legal grounds to run the ads, there were outweighed by moral concerns.

"These ads have no place in New York City," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was joined by several other councilmembers, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Public Advocate Letitia James and Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association.