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Controversial Pro-Israel Ads Go Up in Washington Subway

Controversial Pro-Israel Ads Go Up in Washington Subwayi
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Jeff Swicord
October 12, 2012 8:25 PM
U.S. District Court judge in Washington DC has ruled that the city’s subway system must allow a pro-Israel ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages to be displayed in Metro stations. Legal experts say there is no way around the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, even when some people consider that speech offensive. VOA's Jeff Swicord reports.

Controversial Pro-Israel Ads Go Up in Washington Subway

Jeff Swicord
— A U.S. District Court judge in Washington DC has ruled that the city’s subway system must allow a pro-Israel ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages to be displayed in Metro stations.  Legal experts say there is no way around the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, even when some people consider that speech offensive.

Metro officials had raised concerns that this ad could incite violence especially after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.  

The ad reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat jihad.”

To many Muslims, jihad means an internal spiritual struggle.  But some have used the religious concept as an excuse for violence.

Nihad Awad is executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations. The group advocates for American Muslims.

“So far the overwhelming majority of those who viewed the ads condemned them.  Condemned the bigotry, the hatred behind it, and the organizers of it,” Awad said.

The ads are sponsored by The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israel group that says it is fighting against the Islamization of America.  Two U.S. civil rights organizations list it as a hate group.

The group won a similar court fight in New York, where the ads went up in subway stations in September.  Pamela Geller is executive director of AFDI. She dismisses assertions that recent events should delay the ads.

“It’s never a good time.  If it’s not an ad, it’s a film.  If it’s not a film it’s a teddy bear.  If it’s not a teddy bear, it is a Danish cartoon, or a Swedish cartoon.  Or a French cartoon.  When is a good time to speak openly and candidly about jihad?,” Geller said.

Washington Metro officials say the FBI is investigating a threat of violence if the ads ran.  There have been minor reports of vandalism to the ads that were put up in New York, but overall criticism has been restrained.

Benetta Standly, Washington director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the fear of violence does not mean the the First Amendment, which protects free speech, can be overridden. She argues the way to counter hateful speech is to speak out against it peacefully.

“In this country, the answer to offensive or hateful speech is simply more speech to counter that.  So what we see happening now in the Washington, D.C., Metro transit system is people are starting to put up different advertisements that counter the hateful speech,” Standly said.

American Muslim organizations plan to put their own ads in Metro stations within days.

“I think this is what everyone needs to see.  They want to see messages that emphasize love, compassion, coexistence, and reconciliation.  Not hateful messages that are designed to rip the fabric of the United States and to divide people along ethnic and religious lines,” Awad said.

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by: iosca40 from: Modesto, Ca
October 15, 2012 10:29 PM
I love the decision of U.S. District Court, that represents America's Freedom and am so sad for American's Muslims who don't agree on what they found on this Blessed Land of opportunities. If you don't like America's Constitution, go back on the land of whole violence and bad principles. Viva la America's Freedom !


by: Jonathan Keet from: Israel
October 14, 2012 5:30 PM
As a staunch supporter of Israel and freedom of choice, I find this to be obnoxious propaganda which will do Israel an ill-service and bring even more dissent to a troubled world.


by: samu from: china
October 14, 2012 2:53 AM
in many american movies which directed by jewsh we always notice an advocation not to believe what the media says, they know that how the media is powerful, so they are fighting us by the most effective tool. to the americans, what will happen if your country save its money, time and diplomacy and not to interfere others bussiness. usa would be better without supporting a small country against all the world. you better see who owns the companies of the whole american media's, they are jewsh.


by: karimi from: kabul
October 12, 2012 11:32 PM
just one notification:
civilized man will be peaceful with all religions.
insulting and hostile word never be preserved for a good man and civilized man.
islam or jews both are god religions then what is supporting or not supporting.


by: Dan Wright from: Indiana
October 12, 2012 11:28 PM
Why don't we ever hear Muslims saying things like, "We have these sort of ads coming. We Muslims have a lot of violence against innocent people to answer for. If we aren't going to speak out loudly against violence, or if we wait to speak out until prompted by some international leader threatening sanctions, we can expect people to come to this sort of conclusion about us. --And by the way, most of us LOVE Israel and the Jewish people!" --The world has never heard this. Why?

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