American Muslims & Arabs Respond to AFDI/SIOA Hate Ads - updated 10/13/12

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American Muslims & Arabs Respond to AFDI/SIOA Hate Ads

by Sheila Musaji

The Newsweek “Muslim Rage” cover was answered by the Muslim community around the world with tens of thousands of twitter responses expressing not ‘Muslim Rage’, but Muslim scorn, satire, irony, sarcasm, and humor. 

Muslims and Arabs have begun two efforts to counter the latest round of AFDI/SIOA hate ads beginning today in NYC.  The start of this ad campaign coincides with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, which could mean that it will have international implications.

One effort is the launch of a FaceBook Subway ad twitter campaign:

So ya’ll must have heard that on Monday, September 24th, racist ads will be hitting the MTA system in New York City. The ads will read - “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Let’s flip this campaign on the Islamophobes and bring in an alternative voice and of course some humor!  Serious or Satirical. BE CREATIVE and HAVE SOME FUN!

Join us on Monday using hashtag #MySubwayAd.  You can also include #AntiHate hashtag which successfully trended last week!  Please try to tag the MTA in your posts as well. The official handle is: @MTAInsider

A few early examples: — Halal Burger King. Coming To A Borough Near You. #MySubwayAd @MTAInsider — NYPD is watching us. Who’s watching the NYPD? Pass the Community Safety Act NOW. #MySubwayAd — Lest you forget, The most civilized part of Western Civilization comes from the Middle East (Jesus), not from Rome (Caligula) #MySubwayAd #AntiHate — Islamaphobia is simply misplaced rage and hate. Pamela, in my professional opinion, you need a hug. Bigotry is not free speech. #MySubwayAd — Imagine a world, an America, a NYC where one cannot justify bigotry and hateful, hurtful words as freedom of speech #MySubwayAd @AntiHate — If you allow yourself to hate, Ultimately, you will hate yourself. Hatred is a self-addressed envelope. #MySubwayAd #AntiHate — “Maybe it’s not too late. To learn how to love, and forget how to hate.” - Ozzy Osbourne. #MySubwayAd #AntiHate

If you see these hate ads, share the location details with CAIR-NY. Tweet them the location at @CAIR_NY or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Volunteers will stand in front of the ads with leaflets and posters once we identify the locations.

Hate is ugly and we don’t need it in NYC or anywhere else.

As we previously reported, a coalition of organizations (The 9/11 Community for Common Ground Initiative, Arab American Association of New York, Auburn Seminary, Groundswell, Intersections International, the Interfaith Center of New York, Jews Against Islamophobia, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester, Muslim Consultative Network, National Disaster Interfaiths Network, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Sikh Coaltiion, UNITED SIKHS, WESPAC Foundation, Women in Islam, and CAIR) are asking one of their elected representatives, and the public authority posting the ads to denounce what they consider to be hate speech.  They are calling for peaceful protests within the law.  They are planning a community forum to present a counter message. 

They are not asking anyone to “censor” anything.  They are not asking for “blasphemy restrictions on free speech” - in fact, they are not asking for any kind of restrictions on free speech.  They are not “going over the heads of the American people” because they are part of the American people.  WE THE PEOPLE includes American Muslims.

Here is the full text of the ACTIONS they are requesting.

Sign onto our coalition letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to publicly denounce these hate ads.

  • Sign onto our coalition letter urging MTA Executive Office Joseph Lhota to take actions to denounce these hate ads. (You can also find Mr. Lohta on Twitter at @JoeLhota)

  • Read and share our BLOG POST which explains the reason we oppose these ads, and respond to our call to action by printing out our downloadable flier and distributing them to New Yorkers who are riding or waiting near these hate ads (fliers and posters will be available on Sunday).

  • Starting on Monday, September 24, if you see these hate ads, share the location details with CAIR-NY. Tweet us the location at @CAIR_NY hashtag #HateFreeNY, or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). CAIR-NY will have volunteers stand in front of the ads with leaflets and posters once we identify the locations.

  • SAVE THE DATE: On Thursday October 11, 2012 CAIR-NY will host a community forum titled Savages Unite featuring artist Mark Gonzales. We will hear performances and presentations redefining the narrative surrounding these hate ads. #SavagesUnite

  • Pamela Geller does not understand freedom of speech which does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech. 

    True to form, Geller published Speak Out NYC: A Free Speech Response to Hamas-CAIR’s Hate Campaign Enforcing Sharia’s Blasphemy in America and Sharia Blasphemy Laws in New York: Hamas-CAIR Issues Action Alert to Pressure Bloomberg and MTA to Censor AFDI Pro-Israel Ads.  And, also true to form Robert Spencer re-posted Geller’s nonsense.  The Islamophobia echo chamber in action.

    She makes all sorts of ridiculous and bigoted claims, and focuses all of her attention on CAIR as if they are the only ones who find her ads offensive.  In her attacks on CAIR in these articles she manages to work in every anti-Muslim meme she can in just a paragraph or two.  Please see the THERE IS A REASON statement below this article for responses to all of these including “Muslim Brotherhood document”, “unindicted co-conspirator”, “refused to condemn Hamas”, etc. 

    Geller says:  We have the overwhelming support of the American people, but Islamic supremacists do not respect our fundamental freedoms. They intend to destroy our freedoms from within, in accord with their Muslim Brotherhood stated goal of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.” Now they are going over the heads of the American people and appealing straight to their power base: Ayatollah Bloomberg and their other lackeys.

    She also says: “resort to tried and true Nazi-like tactics of repeating lies and defamation about the defenders of America’s freedoms. Like Hitler and Goebbels, Hamas-linked CAIR is trying to dehumanize its enemy and drive us completely out of the public discourse.”

    Actually, many people have objected to the way the AFDI/SIOA ads are worded and find them offensive, CAIR is one group, but not the only group who has spoken out.  In fact, the response to her ads across the country has been predominately negative.  The only support she has received is from other bigots.  Geller and Spencer may have the support of a small segment of the American people, but most reject their message of hate.

    In a previous article about these ads, I noted:

    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.

    If this list were updated, it would easily include hundreds more condemnations of these ads.

    American Muslims and Arabs are part of the American people, and so not “going over the heads of the American people” by engaging in their constitutional right to counter and condemn what they consider hate speech with other speech. 

    When asked why Geller and Spencer’s AFDI/SIOA was running these ads, Geller replied “because I can”. 

    Here is a direct quote from Geller:

    “You cannot ask me to sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages”.

    And here is a direct response:

    You cannot ask Muslims to sacrifice their freedom so as not to offend hateful Islamophobic bigots.

    UPDATE 9/25/2012

    Sadly, according to the New York Post, Mona Eltahawy was arrested today for defacing one of the AFDI/SIOA ads in NYC.  The Post has a video which seems to show that she did use a can of pink spray paint to deface the sign, and a woman named Pamela Hall (who is a Geller supporter) tried to stop her.  Some are claiming that Mona purposefully spray painted Hall, and that Hall is filing charges for assault.  However, in watching the video, it seems clear that Hall kept putting herself between Mona and the ad, and also actually used the tripod of her camera to shove Mona.  I am certain that the police will be able to use the video to get to the bottom of what actually happened, and the Post reporter was an eye witness.  Mona is at least responsible for vandalism, but I can’t see that she is responsible for assault.

    Of course Geller has already posted an article with her usual over the top description of this event calling Eltahawy an “Islamic supremacist”, a “fascist thug”, “criminal behavior and fascism”.  Vandalizing a poster with spray paint is not exactly equal to “fascism” in any reasonable persons mind. 

    Geller is also angry about another NY Post article which said that “The NYPD ramped up security at 10 subway stations”.  Geller said about this “This is a lie also. There is no increased presence of police. This whole story is like William Randolph Hearst’s creation of the Spanish-American War: the Post is reporting a lie in order to create a fauxtroversy. This isn’t just bad journalism, this is the spreading of the Big Lie, Goebbels-like hate propaganda against anyone who dares speak about jihad.”  The NYPD increased security is equated with “Goebbels-like hate propaganda”? 

    Philip Weiss reports that at least seven of the ads have had stickers saying “racist” or “hate speech” pasted on top of them by someone. 

    See Is vandalism an appropriate free speech response to hate speech? for more on this particular incident with Mona Eltahawy.

    UPDATE 9/27/2012

    As with the previous twitter campaign in opposition to the “Innocence of Muslims” film and the “Muslim Rage” Newsweek cover, this campaign is also beginning to generate a lot of positive media coverage.

    We need to see a lot more creative and effective responses. 

    If the ads come to a city near me, I plan to turn up as often as possible holding one of these creative signs created by Ibn Percy who has corrected this hateful ad:  

    UPDATE 10/4/2012

    There are now a number of other creative twitter and FaceBook responses.  The #MyJihad campaign is on FB here established to take back the word jihad from the Muslim extremists and the Islamophobes. 

    In Oslo, Norway, a group of Muslims put together a campaign to hand out roses to passersby with a small card attached telling something about Islam.  You can see a video here.  They said they are spreading love to counter hate.

    UPDATE 10/12/2012

    The ad that you see at the top of this article is the latest response from the American Muslim community and was announced today in a press conference by CAIR.  CAIR’s counter ads feature a verse from the Quran stating: “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (The Holy Quran, 7:199) The CAIR 16-foot banner ads, which are scheduled to go up next week and stay up for a month in stations featuring the hate ads (Glenmont, Georgia Avenue/Petworth and U Street), also direct metro riders to the organization’s “Explore the Quran” initiative.

    The Qur’ans that are being given out free of charge to non-Muslims who follow the link to the website and request them are the Muhammad Asad translation produced by the Book Foundation in Britain. 

    Also today, 23 other interfaith partners added the names of their organizations to the ad prepared by the Methodist Women’s group.  A new ad signed by these organizations will go up in New York on Monday.  This ad will be signed by Co-Sponsoring Organizations:  • United Methodist Women • The Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign
    • American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee • American Baptist Churches USA • American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)  • Arab American Institute • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)  • Church of the Brethren • Church World Service • Cordoba Initiative • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America • Friends Committee on National Legislation • Interfaith Alliance • The Interfaith Center of New York • Islamic Society of North America • Muslim Public Affairs Council • National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA • National Religious Campaign Against Torture • The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good • Peace is Loud • Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, Washington, DC • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College • United Church of Christ • United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

    Representatives of these organizations will participate in a press conference on Monday to discuss this new ad.

    UPDATE 10/13/012

    MPAC will hold a [ur=] ‘HeART over Hate’ Concert[/url] in NYC on Oct. 21

    On Sunday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. EST, MPAC-NYC and the Muslim Student Association of Columbia University are proud to present “HeART over Hate: Repelling Bigotry through Art & Music.” RSVP today to join us for this special night to celebrate peace and pluralism over bigotry and extremism.

    At a time when public displays of bigotry have tested the limits of acceptable free speech, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is proud to announce it will bring together an exciting line-up of artists and entertainers to showcase the Islamic principle of “repelling evil with what is better” (41: 34).

    With Def Jam Poet Amir Sulaiman headlining, this FREE show will feature some of the American Muslim community’s most talented artists including Broadway actress and acclaimed opera singer, Sumayya Ali; and the hilarious Maysoon Zayid (‘NY Arab-American Comedy Festival’).

    “In recent days, American Muslims have been inundated with negativity, from a spike in mosque vandalism to widespread protests against U.S. embassies around the world to bigoted ads on public transportation to the tragic shooting of Malala Yousufzai, a young Pakistani student activist who was brutally attacked by Taliban militants,” said Deana Nassar, MPAC’s Hollywood Liaison. “We have to share the true stories and diverse lines of American Muslims who stand for peace, equality, justice and love. There is no better way to express this than through the arts.”

    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
    - AFDI/SIOA Roll Out 9 More Anti-Muslim Ads 
    - Americans support tolerance and reject hate about the ads being placed by Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners, and United Methodist Women, etc.
    - Could a boycott of public transport carrying AFDI/SIOA ads be effective?



    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. 

    The reason is that these individuals and organizations consistently promote the what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims.   They generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.   They consistently push the memes that:  We are in danger from creeping Sharia.  the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate.  Muslims in government are 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.

    The claim that they 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 Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade.  They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda. They produce anti-Muslim films.  They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally.   They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.” The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences.   

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