An incendiary ad campaign that includes an image of American journalist James Foley just before his beheading in Syria is coming to 100 MTA buses and two subway stations.
The ads, paid for by flame-throwing blogger Pamela Geller, at a cost of $100,000, are intended as an “education campaign” to warn of the “problem with jihad” and Islamic sharia law, Geller said.
In one of the placard ads, Foley appears handcuffed, on his knees, next to the hooded, black-clad jihadist who is about to execute him — an image from the video released by the group Islamic State, which boasted of the execution.
The ad also contains a second photo, of the Briton suspected by some of being Foley’s killer. The Brit is shown in happier times, before he allegedly joined ISIS. “Yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline,” the placard says.
A second ad contains a 1940s photo of a pro-Nazi Palestinian leader chatting with Adolf Hitler under the headline, “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran.”
In addition to the 100 buses, Geller’s ads will appear at the entrances of the E. 59th St. station on the Lexington Ave. line and the Columbus Circle station.
Geller is a prolific blogger who writes of a “global jihad conspiracy” and calls President Obama a “clown” and an “Islamic apologist.” Her ads will surely offend some bus and subway riders, but the MTA said it has no choice but to allow them.
It tried to block Geller several years ago when she wanted to post ads in the subway that labeled enemies of Israel as “savages.” The MTA said the ads violated its “no demeaning” language policy. But a judge ruled that rejecting the ads violated Geller’s First Amendment rights. “If you read the court decision on this, our hands are tied,” said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg.
Following that battle, the MTA updated its policy to force all viewpoint ads like Geller’s to contain language clearly stating that the opinions expressed are not the transit agency’s. Geller’s new ads will contain the disclaimer.
In addition to the ads featuring Foley and Hitler, Geller has created a placard that links the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group known as CAIR, to the terror organization Hamas.
“Hamas is ISIS, Hamas is al-Qaeda, Hamas is Boko Haram, Hamas is CAIR in America,” it reads. It’s a paraphrase of a quote by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was stressing the links between Islamic extremists. Netanyahu, though, didn’t mention CAIR.
“Geller is a known hater and there’s no law in this country that forces her to tell the truth,” said Corey Saylor, a CAIR spokesman. He said the group has considered suing her, but doesn’t think it’s worth it. “Defamation law being what it is in this country, we understand it would be difficult,” he said.
Update: See “Mayor de Blasio blasts anti-Islamic ad campaign as ‘outrageous'”, New York Daily News, 19 September 2014
And “Anti-Muslim group will sue MTA over rejected Islamophobic ads”, Gothamist, 20 September 2014