| NEW YORK, Sept 19
NEW YORK, Sept 19 As Muslim countries
reverberate with fierce protests over a film mocking the Prophet
Mohammad, an ad equating Islamic jihad with savagery is due to
appear next week in 10 New York City subway stations despite
transit officials' efforts to block it.
The city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority had refused
the ads, citing a policy against demeaning language. The
American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is behind the ad
campaign, then sued and won a favorable ruling from a U.S. judge
According to court documents, the ad reads: "In any war
between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized
man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad."
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the ads would be displayed
starting on Monday, but he could not say at which stations.
"Our hands are tied. The MTA is subject to a court ordered
injunction that prohibits application of the MTA's existing
no-demeaning ad standard," said Donovan.
In July, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that the
ad was protected speech. While agreeing with the MTA that the ad
was "demeaning a group of people based on religion," Engelmayer
ruled that the group was entitled to the "highest level of
protection under the First Amendment."
The American Freedom Defense Initiative gained notoriety
when it opposed creation of a Muslim community center near the
site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the Sept. 11,
2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Pamela Geller, who heads the American Freedom Defense
Initiative, could not immediately be reached for comment. In
July, she called the judge's ruling "a great victory" for free
Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, urged the MTA to donate any proceeds
it collects to a "cause that promotes mutual understanding."
"It's like the anti-Islam film that is creating controversy.
It is designed to offend, designed to provoke," Hooper said of
the New York ad campaign.
A torrent of violence erupted last week after the short,
poor-quality film made in California was posted on the Internet.
Demonstrations have rocked Muslim countries and last week
the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were
killed in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. U.S.
and other embassies have been attacked elsewhere.
On Wednesday, a French magazine published cartoons of the
Prophet Mohammad, drawing harsh criticism from Muslim leaders.