AFDI/SIOA Roll Out 8 More Anti-Muslim Ads - updated 10/4/12

Sheila Musaji

Posted Oct 4, 2012      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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AFDI/SIOA Roll Out 8 More Anti-Muslim Ads

by Sheila Musaji

On TAM, we have published a number of articles on the current controversy over a series of ads being published in public spaces across the country by the hate groups AFDI/SIOA.  These articles include many sources and references regarding discussion of different aspects of this controversy:

- Pamela Geller: A Tale of Two Bus Ads
- A Tale of Three Bigoted Ads
- AFDI/SIOA Bus Ads Inspired by Ayn Rand’s Racist Views of Arabs and Muslims?
- Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer announce new “Islamorealism” anti-Islam ad
- 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains
- The origins of the term “Islamophobia”
- Bus Ads: Of Savages and Idiots
- 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains
- Freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech
- Pamela Geller Does Not Understand Freedom of Speech
- American Muslims and Arabs respond to the ads.
- All extremists are “savages” and “civilized men” need to counter the hate
- How Muslims understand the term “jihad”
- Is vandalism an appropriate free speech response to hate speech? .
- The legal battle over AFDI/SIOA Anti-Muslim Ads
- American Jews Are Speaking Out Against Anti-Muslim Ads - Americans support tolerance and reject hate

Today, Pamela Geller announced that AFDI/SIOA are rolling out another ad campaign.  She says:  “We are expanding our anti-jihad ad campaign across New York and the country. We are rolling the following eight ads out in tandem across the backs of buses all across the great city.”

This time they are planning a series of eight ads with slight variations in wording.  All begin with the same statement, and then have a slightly different “message line”. 

In any war between the civilized man and the savage support the civilized man
— Defend freedom, defeat jihad
— Defend America, defeat jihad
— Support our troops, defeat jihad *
— Support the Baha’is, defeat jihad
— Support the Copts, defeat jihad
— Support the Hindus, defeat jihad
— Defend Nigerian Christians, defeat jihad
— Support Thailand, defeat jihad
— Support Israel, defeat jihad

* this one was added to Geller’s announcement after it was initially posted, making this 9 new ads.

At this point, the only positive articles about the AFDI/SIOA ad campaign are from Geller, Spencer, and their allies in the Islamophobia industry.  Geller insists that the ads are not hateful, and that any criticism is unfounded, and a deliberate attempt to misrepresent her message.  However, it seems that Geller’s message is “misunderstood” as hateful by an awful lot of people. 

The Business Insider thought the term “savages” referred to Palestinians generally. Adam Chandler in the Jewish Tablet thought the ad could be read as anti-Israel.  The San Francisco Jewish Community Center thought the ad was anti-Muslim.  Ron Meier, the ADL NY Regional Director thought the ad was highly offensive and inflammatory, saying “We support the court’s conclusion that the ad is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, yet we still strongly object to both the message and the messenger.  We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim. It is possible to support Israel without engaging in bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes.”  Tfhe Huffington Post thought the ad was anti-Islam.  Alex Kane thought the ad was offensive and anti-Muslim. The San Francisco MTA who ran the ads thought the ad belittles, demeans, and disparages others.  Sydney Levy, Director of Advocacy for Jewish Voice for Peace thought the ad was very offensive.  Tim Redmond of the of the San Francisco Bay Guardian thought the ad was inexcusably offensive.  The Jewish Weekly thought the ads were bigoted.  Johnathan Vigliotti thought the ads were anti-Islamic.  The Times of Israel thought the ads were anti-Islamic. Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feine thought the ads were offensive and inflammatory and encourage hatred. Bradley Burston ]thought the ads represented “At root, the Geller and pro-Kahane brand of “support of Israel,” is little more than a slash and burn Arab–hate that, if left unanswered, will tear apart the Israel and the Jewish community from within. It blinds people to solutions. It convinces people that there are no solutions. It persuades people that there are no options apart from violence, both of word and deed.”  The SFMTA agreed to publish the ads as they are protected speech but posted a notice condemning the description of any group as “savages” and they will donate the money they receive from AFDI/SIOA to a public education campaign by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission ... update: the negative reviews continue to pour in  Robert Mackey in the NY Times called the ads anti-Islam, as did CBS News as did NBC Connecticut, as did Hispanic Business, as did The Stamford Advocate.  The Greenwich Post calls on its’ readers to reject the hate displayed in these ads.   - Salon anti-Islam ad - Business Insider anti-Muslim - Electronic Intifada Islamophobic hate speech - Fox News inflammatory and anti-Muslim - New Republic anti-Muslim - PolicyMic ignorant - Think Progress Islamophobic - Newsday legal but lacking common sense - Big News anti-Islam - Digital Journal anti-Muslim - Haaretz anti-Muslim - New York magazine anti-Muslim - The Gothamist hateful - CNN hate speech - Huffington Post Islamophobic, not pro-Israel - Global Grind Islamophobic, anti-Muslim - The Daily Beast exploiting the first amendment with hateful public message - Haaretz anti-Arab hate

This article will be updated as we get more information. 

UPDATE 10/3/2012

There appears to be some game playing and distancing going on.  At the bottom of the current ads it says: Atlas Shrugs - SIOA-U.S.  - Jihad Watch This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Defense Initiative.  Previous versions of this ad said “Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and then Atlas Shrugs - SIOA - Jihad Watch.  Subtle changes between SIOA and SIOA-U.S. and AFDI and ADI.  Why AFDI is referred to here only as ADI is curious.  Perhaps they are changing the name, or attempting to make it difficult for people to look it up, or it has some legal ramifications.

In Robert Spencer’s posting of the article announcing these new ads he introduces the campaign with the words “Pamela Geller has much more on her brilliant campaign here.”  A subtle attempt at distancing himself from the ads, but impossible, since he is Geller’s partner in the AFDI and SIOA.  If AFDI/SIOA is paying for the ads, then he would have to also have approved their content.  He co-founded the AFDI and the SIOA with Geller.  Spencer identifies himself as co-leader with Geller of the AFDI and SIOA here saying “Pamela Geller, Executive Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and its Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) program, and Robert Spencer, Associate Director of AFDI/SIOA.”  These ads are therefore not her campaign, but their campaign. 

For background on these organizations see AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL - If At First You Don’t Succeed Add Another Acronym and AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL/BF Global Alliance Rally in Stockholm Fizzles.  For more on Spencer and Geller see their backgrounders in our TAM Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.

Robert Spencer published Islamic supremacist writer discovers that “jihad” is sometimes connected to terrorism attempting to counter an article by Hussein Rashid Jihad of Islamophobes

Spencer says:

In this piece, he (and Hamas-linked CAIR’s Ahmed Rehab) proceeds from a false assumption—that I equate all jihad with terrorism—and then tries to make something out of my response to Rehab saying that my “jihad” was “countering your hate & defamation w/ truth abt Islam & Hamas-linked CAIR.” If I’m on a jihad, they say, I must by my own lights be calling myself a terrorist.  ...  On hundreds of radio shows over the years I have explained, as part of my basic explanation of the word, that “jihad” in Arabic has as many connotations and shades of meaning as “struggle” does in English—as I explained in this 2008 interview: “The word means ‘struggle,’ and has as many connotations as the English word struggle does. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a Department of Agricultural Jihad, which has to do with the struggle to increase crop yields.”

What is the false assumption?  Spencer himself admits in this article that he does understand that jihad and the English word struggle are equivalent, and that jihad is an important concept for all Muslims that includes spiritual struggle.

The ads that Spencer and Geller are producing say DEFEAT JIHAD, and in these ads jihad is represented as being:  - the opposite of “civilized” - the opposite of “freedom” - the opposite of “America” - the opposite of “supporting our troops” - equivalent to “savage”.  In every defense of these ads, Spencer’s partner Geller has listed only a series of acts of terrorism as being examples of what the ads mean by jihad.  This is equating jihad with terrorism.

Spencer says:  If I’m on a jihad, they say, I must by my own lights be calling myself a terrorist.  Actually, this is not what Hussein Rashid said.  What he said was

By coming out and saying he practices “jihad,” we are left with two choices: by his definition he hates America and should be arrested, or he has been manipulating the meaning of the word to make money by demonizing a group of Americans (therefore hating on America).  Either way, we now have confirmation from Spencer’s own mouth that he is not to be trusted. You’ll also note in the tweet that he’s out to get all Muslims, not just certain “bad” ones, which has been the normal defense of the Islamophobia Industry.

Spencer closes his article with So this piece is a nice little illustration of the dangers of believing one’s own propaganda. Hussein Rashid, who has probably never read a word I actually wrote, believed Rehab and his fellow thugs in their claim that I equate all jihad with terrorism, and so ends up just making himself look foolish. But there is nonetheless one redeeming feature of this article: it marks the first time an Islamic supremacist has ever acknowledged that—at least sometimes—jihad has something to do with terrorism.

Again, Spencer is attributing something to Hussein Rashid that he did not say.  Read that passage above again.  Rashid said that by his definition he hates America and should be arrested, or he has been manipulating the meaning of the word to make money by demonizing a group of Americans (therefore hating on America).   By HIS definition of jihad, meaning by Spencer’s definition of jihad, not by the definition held by Hussein Rashid. 

If Spencer did not mean to equate jihad with savagery and terrorism, then why are the ads worded as they are?  If Spencer disagrees with these ads and considers them only Geller’s ads, then he would need to issue a public statement that he does not approve of the wording of these ads.  If Spencer and Geller really cared about defeating the extremist interpretation of jihad that allows terrorism, they would join American Muslims in A Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism.

In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.:
— Support peacemakers, defeat hatemongers.
— Support thinking, defeat stupidity.
— Support humanity, defeat racism.
— Support jihad, defeat hirabah.
— Support Israelis & Palestinians, defeat extremists.
— Support Israelis & Palestinians, defeat terrorism.
— Support humanity, defeat warmongers.
— Support tolerance, defeat hatred.
— Support free speech, condemn hate speech.
— Support human rights, defeat injustice.

In the article How Muslims understand the term “jihad”, I said:

The claim that terrorists are engaged in any act of lawful jihad is false. The Islamophobes’ definition of jihad, based on the same specious thinking as the terrorists, is also false. Neither terrorists or Islamophobes have the right to co-opt or hijack or defame the term jihad by their criminal interpretations. We reject the terrorist definition and the Islamophobes definition of Jihad in favor of the traditional, legitimate, respectable, spiritual concept. JIHAD is not a dirty word.  There are only two groups who equate jihad and terrorism - the terrorists and the Islamophobes.

...  Terrorism is not a legitimate part of jihad according to traditional Islamic scholars, and mainstream Islamic scholars, and ordinary Muslims regularly attempt to point this out because they are aware that the only appeal to reason that might influence extremists who claim an Islamic justification in any way is the appeal to Islamic teachings.

If you must use an Arabic word, use the correct word HIRABAH which is the word that would correspond to these acts of terrorism. But, why use an Arabic word at all in English? Just call it TERRORISM!

And, on the FaceBook page for the twitter campaign developed by Ahmed Rehab referred to by Hussein and Spencer, this is how that campaign is described:

The best response to the hateful ad campaign is to convert it into an opportunity to get to the heart of the problem and to reclaim the word “Jihad,” a word many Muslims have shied away from and left to the ravaging of the ignorant in both the Muslim extremist and anti-Muslim extremist circles – both of whom seem to ironically agree on a bloody definition for the word. I love Jihad! Not Jihad the perverse way Bin Laden & Pam Geller define it. But: the struggle against ignorance, injustice & hate. It is the struggle against the darkness in ones own soul. It is the struggle to be patient in times of adversity etc.

Jihad is not savage, except in the minds of those who are too lazy or too careless to wish to understand a well-documented 1400 year old concept in both Islamic literature and Muslim life.

My Grandma’s Jihad was against diabetes and MS while bedridden for seven years. #MyJihad is against bigotry and hatemongering. What’s yours?

Tweet #MyJihad and tell us what your Jihad is.

Also this will be more than a twitter campaign. There will be an ad campaign as well in public transportation in various cities. The best tweets will be used as ads, so tweet away.

UPDATE 10/4/2012

Robert Spencer posted another hateful article #MyJihad ad campaign debunked—using the Qur’an

He is truly agitated that American Muslims have a campaign to reclaim the word “jihad” from both Muslim extremists and Islamophobes.  Spencer’s hatred is obvious.  He sees ordinary American Muslims who reject any interpretation of jihad that would sanction terrorism (hirabah) and senseless violence, not as a praiseworthy jihad, but as a campaign

... designed to foster complacency among Americans, and to blind them to the fact that Islamic jihadists are committing violence in the name of jihad around the world every day. Somehow the jihadists aren’t getting these #MyJihad memos, that jihad is all about buying a kid ice cream or helping your neighbor mow his lawn.

Actually, American Muslims are doing everything they are able to counter extremist interpretations of jihad.  Hateful Islamophobic bigots like Robert Spencer continue to attack, not extremists but all Muslims (no matter how much they claim otherwise), and also continue to show their true colors. 

At the AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL/BF Global Alliance Event held on 9/11/2012 in New York, Aaron Labaree at Guernica Magazine, attended and reported on the Conference.  He provides “A few choice words by Dr. Babu Suseelan, a Hindu activist in Pennsylvania who is also a board member of Geller & Spencer’s hate group SION:  “If we do not kill the bacteria,” the jowly Suseelan scolded the audience, “the bacteria will kill us.” Otherwise, he warned, “Muslims will breed like rats and they will be a majority.” Still, he concluded hopefully, “Islam can be stopped! And it can be wiped out.”  In response to this, Spencer laughed, and Geller covered her face, as if witnessing the antics of a naughty child.

There is no way to understand this except as a call for genocide.  And, covering your face with your hands or laughing, are not appropriate responses for individuals who claim not to hate Muslims. 

Geller and Spencer both describe this SION board member as a “Hindu human rights activist”.

UPDATE 10/6/2012

We have added a new article Americans support tolerance and reject hate which discusses three ads that will be run in the same subway stations as the AFDI/SIOA ads and counter its message.  Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners, and United Methodist Women are running these ads. 

These ads read:

In the choice between love and hate CHOOSE LOVE.  Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.

“Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed.”

“Love Your Muslim Neighbor”.

Yesterday, a court ruled on free speech grounds, that the AFDI/SIOA ads can run in Washington, D.C., and Geller says that they plan to run them across the country.


Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

The original subway ad (Photo Credit: American Freedom Defense Initiative/ABC News)

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

Then, there’s an ad defending Coptic Christians:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

And Hindus:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

Here’s the pro-Thailand, anti-Jihad ad:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

And Geller’s bus poster defending America:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

The Nigerian Christian poster can he seen here (notice: this ad has the aforementioned disclaimer; in the end, all of Geller’s ads, based on the MTA’s protocol, will include this notation):

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

And then there’s the pro-Baha’is ad, also with a disclaimer:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller

Last, but not least, find the pro-Israel ad that reflects the same message that was already posted at NYC subway stops:

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

Photo Credit: Pamela Geller



The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence” are nonsense.  The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,  or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense

The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.

The Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.   They consistently push the false memes that:  - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded.  Every Muslim organization is connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label.  Individual Muslims and Arabs, and their organizations are accused of not condemning Hamas

When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence. 

There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic.  There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)  are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.   There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.   There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. 

See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.