New York City transit officials say an ad that was initially rejected by the MTA for its “demeaning” language is nonetheless expected to appear at 10 subway stations starting next week, because as Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan says, "our hands are tied."
The ad in question contains a message from the American Freedom Defense Initiative that reads, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man ... Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
The NYC ad comes after massive protests in the Muslim world against the American-made fil Innocence of Muslims, which depicted their prophet Muhammad (any depictions of the prophet are a no-no in Islam). It also comes in light of a new cartoon in France over freedom of speech and religion, after satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo published colorfully raunchy cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
The ad prompted protests from the New York’s Council on American-Islamic Relations that called it "an attempt to define Muslims through hate speech." The campaign is promoted by pro-Israel blogger Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of the mosque and Islamic center planned for Lower Manhattan, near the World Trade Center.
But despite what the MTA and critics of the ad consider as "demeaning language," a Manhattan federal court judge ruled back in July that the MTA violated the First Amendment rights of the American Freedom Defense Initiative by refusing to display the message in New York City subway cars because of the word "savages."
This is not the first ad about the Israel/Palestine conflict New York transportation authorities have dealt with. Earlier this month, The American Freedom Defense Initiative bought ad space at Metro-North Railroad stations in Westchester, New York, linking Islam with "19,250 terrorist attacks by extremists since Sept. 11, 2001."
Conversely, earlier in the summer, pro-Palestinian ads at Metro-North train stations prompted questions about the railroad’s policy on advertising.