NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some controversial subway ads have been up for just one day — and already, they’ve been vandalized and have generated thousands of complaints.
The ads sport the words “In any war between the civilized man and the savage support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” They are up at 10 subway stations, CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported Tuesday.
“I don’t think it should be there, I really don’t,” one commuter said.
“If they are saying that Muslims are savages, then that’s wrong. You shouldn’t put that up,” subway rider Lakim Hawks added.
The ads were court ordered to be in city subways despite Metropolitan Transportation Authority opposition. A federal judge ruled the message is protected as free speech.
“I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in decency,” one subway rider said.
“You don’t have to insult any religion whatever it is, whether it’s Islam, Judaism, Christianity,” rider Nessma Salem added.
The ads have already been vandalized. At the 28th Street and Park Avenue station, one ad was defaced inside of 24 hours of being put up, CBS 2’s Dardashtian reported. That was also the case at two other stations, where the ads were ripped apart.
In the wake of violent uprisings abroad following the release of an anti-Islamic film, some said they are worried the ads could fan the flames here in New York City.
“It’s little scary. The whole thing is scary,” one subway rider said.
On Tuesday, religious leaders united to make it clear that the message only reflects the view of its sponsor, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
“We need our elected officials and the MTA to make clear that the City of New York does not endorse this hate group,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Muneer Awad.
Pamela Geller represents the group responsible for the ads.
“It just speaks to the bigger picture that freedom of speech is being assaulted and attacked and destroyed,” Geller said.
Geller called the reaction to the ad part of its message.
Geller said she has received several death threats because of the ad, but has also received enough donations to post the message in seven more cities.
The MTA will replace the defaced ads with new ones and they will stay up for a month.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story
Now, opponents of the controversial ad are urging their supporters to make fun of it by posing for humorous pictures with the ad in the background and then posting those photos on Twitter using the hashtag #MySubwayAd.
“Bringing satire and humor to a very volatile situation kind of dilutes it a little bit and allows people to look at the brighter side and make friends and have a discussion online,” Linda Sarsour, Director of the Arab American Association of New York, told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.
Additionally, a Methodist women’s group is paying for a counter advertisement in the subways which reads “Hate speech is not civilized.”
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