LARCHMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An anti-Islamic advertisement has gone up at several Metro-North Railroad stations in Westchester County.
It reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”
The American Freedom Defense Initiative paid for it. It associates Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since 9/11.
WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports
The Defense Initiative is led by blogger and political activist Pamela Geller. She said its message is it’s not “Islamophobic’ to oppose jihad terror.”
“The ad is just stating a fact. There have been well over 19,000 jihadi attacks since 9/11,” she told 1010 WINS. “People need to know this. Obviously, everybody is surprised by this number and I think that’s part of the reason why we need to run these ads. People need to know this is going on across the world.”
The group won a federal court decision this summer that said the MTA violated its First Amendment rights when it rejected one if its ads, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.
Some Metro-North commuters were shocked to see the ads early Friday morning, but others didn’t see it as much of an issue.
“I think generally you want to be neutral with advertising if they’re getting a lot of complaints,” one person said.
“Maybe some people are offended, but today, people are so easily offended by so many things,” another said.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
Last month, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel ads appeared at Metro-North stations.
One of those posters depicted the loss of Palestinian land and referred to the people as refugees.
Henry Clifford, the chairman of a group called the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, spent $25,000 of his own money on the ads.
“The Palestinian people have lost most of their homeland and the map shows exactly what is happened to them,” Clifford said.
StandWithUs countered with its own posters. The pro-Israeli group purchased ads at 75 locations along the three major Metro-North lines.
“One of the billboards actually talks about how in the Bible, this 3,000-year-old bestseller, Israel has always been the Jewish homeland,” Avi Posnick with StandWithUs said last month. “We talk about how Israel needs a partner for peace on the Palestinian side, and also show Israel’s contributions to the world.”
Geller said she posted her ads in response to the anti-Isreali billboards that ran last month. She said since the ads went public, she’s received tons of death threats but said it “comes with the territory.”
“If you’re going to expose jihad, you’re going to get death threats,” she said. “So I’m not surprised by some of the incredibly vial and nasty invective that have been hurled at me via email, but I will say that it’s running two to one — emails of support and thank you.”
Geller said the billboards will be up for at least four weeks, but possibly longer if she can raise the funds.
“Depending upon how much money I raise for a nationwide campaign, I intend to purchase another four weeks if I can raise the funds,” she said.
The MTA said it doesn’t endorse the ad and said it doesn’t ban advertising based on content. Greenburg Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said the agency should take out ads of its own along the platform emphasizing that fact.
MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said the agency may discuss its policies on political ads in September.
The Anti-Defamation League said to condemn the entire faith is unwarranted.
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