Authorities in San Francisco have criticized a series of provocative anti- Muslim ads being displayed on Muni buses, but have not banned them, citing freedom of speech rights.
“We understand and apologize that people could be offended by these ads,” Paul Rose, a spokesman for Muni, said Tuesday. “Neither the city nor Muni endorse the content of these negative ads. However, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, including speech that is considered offensive”
RT reports An anti-Islamic, pro-Israeli lobby group has stirred controversy in San Francisco with a series of provocative ads on 50 buses, with images of Adolf Hitler accompanied by a demand to stop all aid to Islamic countries and an appeal to “stop the hate.”
The ads are the latest effort by the pro-Israel, Houston-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment across the US. The group is well-known for its previous Islamophobic advertising campaigns in major US cities.
The ads appeared in the wake of the recent terrorist atrocities in France, where attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket killed 17 people, including two police officers.
“Islamic Jew hatred,” the ads read. “It’s in the Quran.”
The ads on buses operated by Muni, San Francisco’s municipal transportation agency, feature an archive photograph of Hitler talking with a Muslim leader from Palestine in the first half of the 20th century, Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini, who was a prominent Palestinian Arab nationalist and critic of Zionism.
SFGate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, described the ads as equating Islam with Nazism.
Pamela Geller, founder of the AFDI, told Reuters she had been working on the San Francisco ads since last spring.
“It’s the only way to leapfrog over the media,” she was reported as saying. “It’s the only way to talk directly to the American people.”
AFDI’s previous controversial campaigns in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco sparked outrage from both politicians and civil rights activists.